Heat Illness Prevention & Sun Safety

 Types of Heat Illness

Last Updated: November 27, 2023

Failure to prevent milder military exertional heat illness (EHI) dehydration and mild heat cramps from progressing can result in more serious heat exhaustion or the life-threatening medical emergencies heat stroke and hyponatremia

Military medical surveillance tracks cases of heat exhaustion, and the life-threatening heat stroke in its routine monthly weather-related surveillance reporting.

Both Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke are military Reportable Medical Events​​​ 



​​​Heat Exhaustion (reportable medical event)

Signs and Symp​toms:

  • Dizziness, headache, nausea, weakness, unsteady gait, muscle cramps, fatigue
  • Core temperature elevated but remains below 104⁰F
  • Symptoms resolve rapidly with cooling interventions

Initial Actions:

  • Rest casuality in shade
  • Loosen uniform/remove head gear
  • Encourage drinking but track volume (no more than 1.5 quarts of water over 1 hour)
  • Ensure medical evaluation and evacuation 

Heat Stroke (re​portable medical event)

Signs and Symptoms:

  • Primary symptom is change in mental status (confusion, delirium, combative, loss of consciousness)
  • Profuse sweating, vomiting, weakness, convulsions and chills

Initial Actions:

NOTE: a potentially fatal medical emergency - initiate rapid cooling and Medevac 

  • Call EMS or for MEDEVAC
  • Remove all o​uter ​clothing
  • Initiate rapid cooling with ice sheets - the faster the body is cooled, the less damage to the brain and organs
    • Cover all but the face with ice sheets
    • Ensure the ice sheet is soaked prior to applying to the casualty
    • Switch ice sheets every 6 minutes with new ice sheets


Signs and Symptoms:

  • Mental status changes
  • Repeated vomiting (clear vomit)
  • Excessive water intake
  • Poor food intake
  • Abdomen distended/bloated
  • Large amounts of clear urine

Initial Actions:

  • Contact medical (verify hydration and sodium)
  • Do not give more water or IV fluids
  • If awake, allow casualty to consume salty foods
  • Evacuate immediately