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Treating Heat Stroke: Cooling As Quickly As Possible Is Critical

According to the Korey Stringer Institute, the following steps should be taken in beginning emergency first-aid treatment of an athlete experiencing heat stroke:


  • Remove all equipment and excess clothing.
  • Cool the athlete as quickly as possible within 30 minutes via whole body ice water immersion (place them in a tub/stock tank with ice and water approximately 35-58°F); stir water and add ice throughout cooling process.
  • If immersion is not possible (no tub or no water supply), take athlete into a cold shower or move to shaded, cool area and use rotating cold, wet towels to cover as much of the body surface as possible.Football player in ice bath
  • Maintain airway, breathing and circulation.
  • After cooling has been initiated, activate emergency medical system by calling 911.
  • Monitor vital signs such as rectal temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, blood pressure, monitor CNS status.
    • If rectal temperature is not available, DO NOT USE AN ALTERNATE METHOD (oral, tympanic, axillary, forehead sticker, etc.). These devices are not accurate and should never be used to assess an athlete exercising in the heat.
  • Cease cooling when rectal temperature reaches 101-102°F (38.3-38.9°C).
Exertional heat stroke has had a 100% survival rate when immediate cooling (via cold water immersion or aggressive whole body cold water dousing) was initiated within 10 minutes of collapse.


Recommended Equipment List

Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) Device
Rectal thermometer
Lubricating gel
Tub or kiddie pool
Cooler with ice
Water source
3-4 towels
Tent for shade

Source: Korey Stringer Institute

Posted July 21, 2015