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Real Life Stories from Excessive Heat Victims

Kellen Barrett, 2013

In 2013, I was working on an interstate construction project doing heavy labor. As the day went on it got to be 105 with a heat index of 112. I neglected to hydrate enough. I collapsed at 2:30 pm and had to be

Benjamin Zimmerman, East Texas

I was recently doing some one overdue yard work for my parents in east Texas. The day, like all days there was hot and humid. I was finishing cleaning up (taking a wheelbarrow full of bricks around to the backyard). I got around the back of the house (pouring sweat) and collapsed to my knees behind the wheelbarrow. I stayed there for a minute. I mustered my strength stood and finished my trip. I unloaded the bricks and then sat on them for a few minutes. Then, dizzy and ready to vomit, I stood and made my way back across the yard to the garden hose. I turned it on and soaked my head. After a minute or so I began feeling normal again. Two days later I worked on a different project under identical conditions, when I got to that overheated point, I was prepared.
Stay cool, stay hydrated. Work smarter not harder.

Michael Nunn

After a hard day of wearing camo and salutes I spent another four hrs driving a non air conditioned truck. Shortly after exiting my vehicle I became dizzy and blacked out. I awoke to be informed I had suffered a serious heat stroke due to my lack of proper hydration. Drink plenty of water and avoid the sun if possible and take frequent rests. Using these methods I have never suffered from another heat stroke !

Tracy Buck, Coastal South Carolina

I live in coastal South Carolina and was helping with a bird survey once during an unusually hot Sept day. We were observing birds in dredge spoil sites along Winyah Bay and were covered head to toe to keep the flies/mosquitoes at bay. I started feeling weak and developed a splitting headache, then started vomiting. One of the other birders rushed me back to her home where I got in a cold shower. Afterward I laid down and she kept putting cold towels on my face, neck and head. It took a couple of hours, but I eventually felt well enough to drive home. I've had 3 other instances of heat exhaustion, so try to be vigilant now about hydrating and staying cool. When we work out in the field now on super hot days, we take a cooler full of ice water and put towels in it to throw over our heads while we work.

Van Hower, High Desert Arizona

I lived on a mesa in the high desert of Arizona. At 6500 ft. and in the summer with temps in the mid 90s.....that sun was blaring! I felt, nauseous, dizzy, I couldn't see and felt my knees buckling underneath me.....my husband saw this and got me inside, where I stayed the remainder of the day. Drank more fluids and just stayed still and rested. After awhile, I felt better...but I learned.....wear my big hat and sunglasses. Cover my skin with lightweight clothing and drink, drink, drink water!!!! It was scary.

Danelle Eby Choate, Tennessee

I was mowing my yard (about an acre, on a riding lawn mower) mid morning in August in Tennessee. I was taking 5 minute breaks, sipping water, trying to cool down, but I wanted to finish, so I ignored the lack of sweat and cramping in my arms. After I finished, I took a shower. Got dizzy, passed out, busted my head open. I had to call someone to take me to the doctor to get staples.
Just because you think you are doing ok because you are drinking water doesn't mean you are. I should've listened to my body and took longer breaks.

Jan Murray

My husband had a heat stroke while pouring a concrete foundation in July heat....he had no pulse and his body temp was 104. Thankfully, the fire department was fast and they got to him in time. He spent a week in intensive care and now is super careful to stay hydrated in summer. He also now works inside. Never want to go through that again

Sabrina, Lake Tahoe, CA, 1991

It was the summer of 1991. I had a day off from working at a summer camp in South Lake Tahoe, CA, so I decided to hike Mt. Talac, 10 miles, often running. I chose to hike alone, without water, and I did not check the weather. It turned out to be a hot day with no breeze. I brought a juice box and told myself I wouldn't need more. When I got thirsty, I melted a handful of snow. When I returned to camp, I was clammy, shaking, ash gray, had a splitting headache, and felt nauseous. I looked and felt awful; the camp nurse said I had heat exhaustion. It took over a day to recover. Don't be lazy. Always have plenty of water. I'm lucky I survived that lesson.

Catherine, Longview, TX, 2016

I felt so sick when I moved to Longview, TX, from Alabama. It's a different kind of heat. I felt nauseous and probably needed water. I had to get bottled water since our water tastes and smells funny since we have fracking in our area. I was very nauseous and throwing up everything for a week. It's imperative to have water and a/c at all times.

Brandon, Pittsgrove, NJ, June 2015

Once I decided to take a 5 mile run on a 95 degree day with high humidity. Towards the fourth mile, my excessive sweating began to slow down, I began to shiver, my lungs and muscles got really tight and I began to have stabbing pains in my chest. I got home later and weighed myself. I had lost over 10 pounds of water. I was running by myself and I was out of shape at the time. If I had collapsed no one would have found me on the side of the road fallen in the woods.

Carol, 1960s

I had heat exhaustion twice as a high school students in the 1960s. Both times I was in a physical education class time in mid-to-late spring held outdoors when both the air temperature and humidity were very high. There was not enough time after I'd come back into the school building to take a shower before I'd need to change from my gym suit to what I'd worn to classes. There was no air conditioning in the high school building at that time. I remember feeling dizzy and constantly having to leave the classroom to get cold water at a water fountain or using the girls bathroom to apply cold water to my face, neck and arms and try to cool myself down. Both times, I ended up going to the school nurse's office lying down until the dizziness had passed, more than 2 hours.

James, Arizona, 2015

I came down with heat exhaustion in just 15 minutes in 105 degrees on a airport ramp because of salt depletion and wearning the wrong clothing. It took me a long painful day to recover and I was lucky. I had a strange reaction, bringing me to my knees and trying to recover my vision and not become sick to my stomach. It comes upon a person unaware.

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