Fitness Survival Tip #236: Heat Exhaustion

Good for any survival situation!

Hey guys! Today I am writing to you from NYC! I know! LA last week and NYC this week, kind of weird for me because I really don’t travel that much, usually.

Anyway, I would like to share a personal story today about my severe case of heat exhaustion where, hopefully, it never happens to you! And if it does you will be equipped to react.

Today, we talk about a fitness survival tip that could very well save your life. It actually did save my life, so I will start with that story.

My Heat Exhaustion Experience

It does more than Vitamin D…

I live in Texas, so heat is just something you deal with, and in all honesty not something you put much thought into after a few years. Yes, the summers absolutely suck…the heat is some places is crazy.

Well one hot summer day, during the hottest part of the day, I decided to go run some intervals on a high school track. You know, a few 100m, 200m and 400m sprints with very little rest in between. I was nearing the end of my 400m intervals and was almost done with the workout when it hit me.

Working out alone in the heat = bad idea

I was dizzy and felt like I was going to pass out. It was bad. In the military they cram all sorts of safety classes and what not at you all the time so most of it actually sticks over time. One of the things they do cover is how to recognize and treat heat exhaustion. It did not take me long to realize I was suffering from heat exhaustion.

I was a little concerned because no one knew where I was at, and I was the only guy at the track and the only car in the parking lot, so I knew I needed to take care of myself quickly.  I also knew that heat exhaustion could quickly lead to heat stroke, which can lead to permanent brain damage…

I was feeling extremely faint and knew that A.) I could not make it to my car and B.) I needed to find a cool place as quickly as possible.

I found a place under the bleachers that was well shaded and surprisingly had very cool concrete. I more or less threw myself into that area and took off my shirt. I also had some pretty cool water in a water bottle and I poured some of that on my chest and neck and a little on my forehead and I drank a few sips – the key is not to gulp or chug. Keep in mind I was suffering from a pretty severe case of heat exhaustion. I could barely complete the tasks I am telling you about and was still very afraid that I was going to pass out.

The only cool place I could find, under the bleachers.

I was probably under the bleachers for 15 min before I felt like I could move again. I knew I still was not out of the woods but I decided to try to drive, probably not the best idea in retrospect. I got in my car and the heat of the vehicle didn’t help anything. I then proceeded with a very uncoordinated drive, only rivaled by an inebriated driver, to the nearest gas station.

I was still pretty faint and started to feel sick but I was so glad that I made it to the gas station. I stumbled in to the building and went straight to the cold drink area. I actually went into the back area where they store the beer. I grabbed a Gatorade and sat on the ground in their cooler area, where it was probably 40 degrees F. I sat there for probably 20 min and drank the Gatorade until I started to feel much better. Funniest thing is no employee or anyone said anything during this time and I could not have cared less.

I got up paid for my drink and sat in my car with the air conditioning blasting for about another 10 minutes just to make sure I felt good enough to drive. I decided I was ok. I drove home and stayed up for a little bit just to confirm I was ok and then I went to sleep for like 12 hours.

Life saving!

I have had friends who have suffered from heat exhaustion before, but their stories don’t sound quite as bad as mine, which scares me even more. I have no idea how close I was to heat stroke and I don’t even want to think about it.

The point is that I knew what to do in this situation and I did it, and that may be the only reason I am writing about it today.

This happened to me about 5 years ago. I know people say once it happens one time you are prone to getting heat exhaustion. But I am not sure if I believe it. I have had some pretty extreme workouts in some pretty extreme heat since then. I just know how to take better care of myself before and during a workout in extreme heat.

Some tips from WebMD

What you need to know: Symptoms

The most common signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Confusion
  • dark-colored urine (which indicates dehydration)
  • dizziness
  • fainting
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • muscle cramps
  • nausea
  • pale skin
  • profuse sweating
  • rapid heartbeat

What you need to know: Treatment

1. Lower Body Temperature

  • Get the person out of the heat and into a cool environment.
  • If air-conditioning is not available, fan the person.
  • Spray the person with a garden hose, get him into a cool shower, apply cool compresses, or give the person a sponge bath

2. Rehydrate

  • Give cool, nonalcoholic beverages as long as the person is alert.

3. Rest

  • Have the person avoid physical activity for the rest of the day.
  • Give over the counter acetaminophen if the person has a mild headache.

4. See a Health Care Provider

Untreated heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke. See a doctor that day if:

  • Symptoms get worse or last more than an hour
  • The person is nauseated or vomiting

Most important (Jerred’s List):

  • Always make sure you are well hydrated before a workout
  • Make sure you take a cell phone
  • Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back
  • When you get somewhere look around and decide an action plan if the worst were to happen.


Hope you guys enjoyed reading this one!

Anyone out there ever suffer from any heat related symptoms?

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