Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke: Don’t Let it Happen to You!

Be sure you drink enough, have enough salt in your body, and a good electrolyte balance. If you are getting IV fluids, you blew it!
Be sure you drink enough, have enough salt in your body, and a good electrolyte balance. If you are getting IV fluids, you blew it!

I love hot weather, love it! Never had any worries about overheating and dehydrating…until I went to the US Golf Open on a beautiful 75 degree day. I was only there about 45 minutes, standing at the 14th hole, watching the golfers putt. The sun was brilliant but it wasn’t all that hot out. The crowd surged around me and I was unable to move much. I had water to drink on the way to the golf course, but none with me and I didn’t have a hat on my head.

Suddenly, I just didn’t feel right. I told my son I was going to walk over to the nearby refreshment stand and get something to drink. I only made it halfway before I had to kneel down on the ground. I felt…how can I say….an impending feeling of doom. A man walked by swinging a water bottle. I reached up and snatched it straight out of his hand and started drinking it. A crowd gathered around me as they knew something was wrong with me. I was offered salty snacks and more water. My son rushed up and asked me if I was going to be all right. I said, “No,” and he called for a vehicle to take me to the emergency setup, a tent that replicated an ER (it was very fancy…this was the US Open!). I didn’t know what was wrong with me….was I having a stroke or a female heart attack?

When I got to the ER tent, they took my blood pressure and it was 80/40. They gave me Gatorade and some granola bars. My blood pressure didn’t increase. So they hooked me up to an IV and gave me two bags of fluid and my blood pressure returned to normal.

I had never experienced heat exhaustion before and I was lucky it didn’t turn into heat stroke. It was frightening and happened so quickly and on a day which I wouldn’t have expected it; after all, I regularly ran on blistering hot days at noon! I learned something from this and I apply this to travel in any country we go where the sun shines most of the time!

One: wear a cap or hat on your head when you are in the sun.
Two: always have a rehydration drink and salty/sweet snacks along with you.

When I take women on tours in tropical countries, I will always carry emergency rations even though we are rarely far from stores and refreshments are often hawked on the streets and buses. Having experienced heat exhaustion and near heat stroke, it is a pretty frightening experience and a very preventable one as well.

Better safe than sorry, so there is always room in my daypack for lifesaving rehydration goodies!

Learn more about my upcoming trip with Older Women, Cheap Travel to Nicaragua in January 2016 – Seven spots left!


Learn more about all our trips, how we travel, and how little it costs at Older Women, Cheap Travel – Jan-Nicaragua, March-India, July-Mongolia, Oct-Mexico


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