IDENTIFY HEAT CRAMPS
Heat cramps are painful cramps of the voluntary muscles, usually of the
abdomen, legs, or arms. The muscle cramps are caused by the inability of the muscles
to relax once they have contracted. This condition results from an electrolyte imbalance
in the body caused by excessive loss of salt and water from the body. Most of the salt
and water are usually lost through perspiration when the person works in hot weather
for a long period of time.
a. Muscle Spasm. The most obvious indication of a heat cramp is the soldier's
reaction to the muscle cramp or spasm. The casualty will usually grasp or massage the
muscle that is having the spasm if the spasm is in an arm or leg. If the spasm is in his
abdominal region, he may hold his abdomen and bend over at the waist.
b. Moist Skin. The casualty will normally be sweating profusely. In some
individuals, the skin will be pale or gray also.
c. Thirst. The casualty will probably be very thirsty.
d. Dizziness. The casualty may feel dizzy.
e. Normal Vital Signs. The casualty's body temperature will be either normal or
only slightly elevated and his blood pressure will be within his normal range.
TREAT HEAT CRAMPS
A person with heat cramps will recover if the lost salt and water is replaced and
steps are taken to prevent the heat cramps from developing into more serious heat
injury. Steps for treating a casualty with heat cramps are given below.
a. Protect Casualty From Sun. Move the casualty to a cool, shaded area to
rest. If shade is not available, improvise a shade using ponchos, blankets, or other
available materials to protect the casualty from direct sunlight. Have the casualty sit or
lie in a comfortable position.
b. Loosen Clothing. Loosen any tight-fitting clothing.
If you are in a chemical environment (chemical agents present in the air
and/or on the ground), do not loosen or remove the casualty's protective
mask, protective clothing, or boots.