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Dehydration, Heat Exhaustion & Heatstroke
- Take it easy as you acclimatize to SoCal’s high temperatures. Always drink plenty of water. A minimum of 3L per person per day is recommended when you’re active outdoors. Be sure to eat a salty snack too, as sodium is necessary for rehydration.
- Dehydration (lack of water) or salt deficiency can cause heat exhaustion, often characterized by heavy sweating, fatigue, lethargy, headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and muscle cramps.
- Long, continuous exposure to high temperatures can lead to possibly fatal heatstroke, when body temperature rises to dangerous levels. Warning signs include altered mental state, hyperventilation and flushed, hot and dry skin (ie sweating stops). Immediate hospitalization is essential.
- Skiers and hikers will find temperatures in the mountains and desert can quickly drop below freezing, especially during winter. Even a sudden spring shower or high winds can lower your body temperature rapidly.
- Instead of cotton, wear synthetic or wool clothing that retains warmth even when wet. Carry waterproof layers (eg Gore-Tex jacket, plastic poncho, rain pants) and high-energy, easily digestible snacks like chocolate, nuts and dried fruit.
- Symptoms of hypothermia include exhaustion, numbness, shivering, stumbling, slurred speech, dizzy spells, muscle cramps and irrational or even violent behavior.
- To treat mild hypothermia, get out of bad weather and change into dry, warm clothing. Drink hot liquids (no caffeine or alcohol) and snack on high-calorie food.
- For more advanced hypothermia, seek immediate medical attention.
Healthcare & Insurance
For medical emergencies, call 911 or go to the nearest 24-hour hospital emergency room (ER). Many healthcare professionals demand payment at the time of service, especially from out-of-towners. Phone around to find a walk-in clinic or doctor who will accept your insurance.
Keep all receipts and documentation, in case your insurance provider can reimburse you. Some insurance policies require you to get pre-authorization for medical treatment before seeking help. Overseas visitors with travel health-insurance policies may need to contact a call center for an over-the-phone assessment before seeking medical treatment.