Prevention must be part of your survival skills, and when it comes to heat exhaustion it is vital to know the heat stroke symptoms before the onset of full blown heatstroke, also known as hyperthermia.
In some cases it may not be possible to prepare properly so it is important to know how to protect yourself using what is available in the wild.
Preventing injuries must be top of your survival list, as well as being proactive and protecting yourself against things like hypothermia, hyperthermia (heat stroke), frostbite and also dehydration – all will ensure your survival.
Knowing what the outcome can be goes a long way to preventing certain survival situations from happening in the first place.
Heatstroke happens when the body fails to maintain its own cooling functions due to any excessive exposure to higher temperatures.
Dehydration is more simple – not enough body fluids for normal cell and organs to function – this is fatal – the body only has to lose 12-18% of its fluids.
Generally it is not possible to last for longer than 72-hours without adequate re-hydration.
In some very extreme cases, it may be possible to survive longer than three days, but it would essentially mean that you do not move.
There have even been some reported cases where a person has survived for longer than five days without taking in any liquids – but these sort of cases are very extreme examples of survival
Your body is cooled by the evaporation process.
The cooling process takes place when you begin to sweat and your skin then starts to evaporate, cooling the skin firstly, and then ultimately the blood in capillaries, veins and arteries that are close to the surface.
The warm blood flows from the various organs to the surface of the skin, causing it to be cooled and the blood then travels back to the organs to lower their temperature.
A simple method to keep the body cool is by simply wetting your clothing and keeping your head covered with a wet cloth.
It is important to conserve sweat and never attempt to ration any water.
If you are in the hotter areas of the wilderness it is important to reduce the amount of sweating – and in order to conserve bodily fluids you should not exert yourself during the hottest parts of the day.
Keep under any shaded areas if possible, as this can help slow the dehydration process and thus help prevent heatstroke.
If core body temperatures rises above 40.5ᵒC (105ᵒF) – it must be cooled down immediately or it is fatal.
- Whenever possible, submerge the patient in water.
- If not possible – cool the head with wet cloths as well as the rest of the body, give fluid, lie patient down and raise the feet..
- You familiarization with these heat stroke conditions – if not recognized early they can often lead to a fatal situation.
- Before venturing out ensure you have prepared for this scenario and carry the necessary emergency equipment in your backpack
Always stop and consider the Top 5 Survival Skills in any emergency:
Typically, in your wilderness preparation, you will be knowledgeable and aware of heat stroke symptoms and dehydration signs, as well as the actual risk of heatstroke during your venture.
Planning you day is essential, as is ensuring you have the correct equipment with you – correct clothing, head wear and eye wear must be worn and your day planned in such a way as to ensure you do not overwork yourself and thus overheat.
There are a few easy steps you can take to reduce the chances of heat stroke, these steps run hand in hand with applying parts of the 5 golden survival skills.
- Plan for the worse case scenario you can think of and then pack the relevant equipment to reduce the risk.
- Heat stroke can only be induced by exposure to heat. Therefore, if you are in the wild, plan your route so as to travel during the cooler parts of the day and rest up when it is very hot.
- Rest frequently – you burn a huge amount of energy when it hot – take your time.
- Avoid dehydration by drinking little and often – never skip a drink – if you feel thirsty, chances are you are already starting to dehydrate.
- Set intervals where you can rest up under shade where possible and allow your body to cool off
Essential survival equipment for hot areas
However, if you planned venture is for more than a few days, carrying enough water becomes a big problem.
Planning a good hiking route in the wilderness should include following or passing by various water sources. – rivers, streams or even a lake make ideal land marks as well as giving you a source of unlimited water.
However, your water can be obtained from many sources, but the most important thing to ensure is it is it safe to drink.
With a wilderness venture over 3 days it will be necessary to carry [as a minimum] a LifeStraw Personal Water Filter in order to have safe drinking water from any water source along your route
A Water Filter Straw will eliminate the need to build a fire to boil water – no fiddling around with water purifying tables and so on – it’s an instantly usable bit of kit. No faffing around – just find the water, dip it in and drink.
If there are more people in the party it’s worth considering a LIFESAVER Filtration Water Bottle – shown here on the left – this water filter will give you 4000ltrs of pure, safe drinking water from any source – and the advantage is that only one person need carry it for everyone.
If the other members of the party carry a smaller water bottle it can be topped up whenever required – this type of equipment makes the chances of dehydration almost impossible.
When it becomes necessary to shelter from the suns heat, any shade will do – however, carrying a Mylar emergency shelter like this Level One Emergency Tent, which is ideal and will protect you from the suns direct rays and heat.
It can be draped over a tree branch and will give the maximum amount of shade to shelter under.
Being fully prepared will ensure that you do not become a victim in any survival situation.
Having some simple equipment, and taking simple precaution can mean the difference between surviving or not..!
Heatstroke can can put you in a very serious situation – any signs of heat stroke symptoms need to be addressed before heat exhaustion turns into full blown hyperthermia.