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SMSR Offers Advice on Avoiding Heat Exhaustion

Following a rescue in Big Santa Anita Canyon by the Sierra Madre Search and Rescue Team, SMSR Medical Committee Chair Tommy Ingulfsen offers some advice for staying safe in the summer heat.

Last month, members of the Sierra Madre Search and Rescue Team responded to an incident of heat exhaustion in Big Santa Anita Canyon.

The hiker was treated by paramedics from the , and EMT-certified Search and Rescue Team members before being evacuated to an ambulance waiting at Chantry Flat.

Following the incident,  Medical Committee Chair Tommy Ingulfsen offered advice to hikers in an effort to help them stay safe in the wilderness during the hot summer months.

Environmental exposure is a common cause of emergencies in the backcountry. In Southern California at this time of year, hikers, bikers, runners, and others who enjoy the local mountains are particularly at risk for heat-related illness.

The symptoms can be as mild as heat cramps - painful muscle spasms - or as serious as heat stroke, which is a life-threatening emergency that requires immediate intervention. Infants and the elderly are particularly at risk since their ability to regulate body temperature is reduced.

“The chance of developing a heat-related illness may be aggravated by pre-existing conditions such as heart disease, kidney disease and obesity, as well as the use of alcohol and drugs,” Ingulfsen said in the statement.

“In hot weather it is a good idea to keep outdoor activity to a moderate level and stay in the shade as much as possible. Also make sure to stay well hydrated,” Ingulfsen continued.

Ingulfsen advises that in addition to drinking water, sports drinks that contain sodium are good for replacing necessary electrolytes.

Some common symptoms of heat-related illness include headache, lightheadedness, cramps, dizziness and vomiting.

“If you or a friend develop any of these signs,” Ingulfsen said, “cease activity, find a cool place to rest and consider calling for help.” 

Portions of this article were submitted to Patch by Alex Dundas, member of the .

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