What is Heat stroke (also called Sun stroke)

This is a quick reference for general public awareness about Heat stroke (also called Sun stroke). I compiled this, as many people, even in educated families, didn’t know about it and barely saved from it, during recent heatwave in Karachi.


Heat stroke results from prolonged exposure to high temperatures — usually in combination with dehydration — which leads to failure of the body’s temperature control system. The medical definition of heat stroke is a core body temperature greater than 105 degrees Fahrenheit, with complications involving the central nervous system that occur after exposure to high temperatures. Other common symptoms include nausea, seizures, confusion, disorientation, and sometimes loss of consciousness or coma.

Symptoms of Heat Stroke:

The hallmark symptom of heat stroke is a core body temperature above 105 degrees Fahrenheit. But fainting may be the first sign.
Other symptoms may include:
• Throbbing headache
• Dizziness and light-headedness
• Lack of sweating despite the heat
• Red, hot, and dry skin
• Muscle weakness or cramps
• Nausea and vomiting
• Rapid heartbeat, which may be either strong or weak
• Rapid, shallow breathing
• Behavioral changes such as confusion, disorientation, or staggering
• Seizures
• Unconsciousness

People most at risk of heat-related illness:

Anyone can suffer from heat-related illness, but those most at risk are:
• People over 65 years, particularly those living alone or without air conditioning
• Babies and young children
• Pregnant and nursing mothers
• People who are physically unwell, especially with heart disease, high blood pressure or lung disease
• People on medications for mental illness.

Causes of heat stress and heat-related illness:

There are many factors which can cause heat stress and heat-related illness, including:
• Dehydration – to keep healthy, our body temperature needs to stay around 37°C. The body cools itself by sweating, which normally accounts for 70 to 80 per cent of the body’s heat loss. If a person becomes dehydrated, they don’t sweat as much and their body temperature keeps rising.
• Lack of airflow – working in hot, poorly ventilated or confined areas.
• Sun exposure – especially on hot days, between 11am and 3pm.
• Hot and crowded conditions – people attending large events in hot or crowded conditions may also experience heat stress that can result in illness.

Heat stroke – treatment:

Heat stroke is a medical emergency and requires urgent attention:
• Call for an ambulance.
• Get the person to a cool, shady area and lay them down while you’re waiting for emergency medical help.
• Remove clothing and wet their skin with water, fanning continuously.
• Do not give the person fluids to drink. (You can give fluids in case of heat exhaustion.)
• Position an unconscious person on their side and clear their airway.

Heatwave in Karachi & How we responded

This would have best context, for those living in Karachi. But, others would also get the main message. With the rising temperature in Karachi, in the recent past (June 2015), going as high as breaking record (45oC), which was exacerbated by the government’s water and electricity shortfall, that some 1000+ souls lost their lives in this big metropolis. Most of them were either chronically ill or drugged and rest lacked awareness about heat-stroke, but it was no less than a tragedy for the city, in recent times. I wrote another post on heat stroke and how to respond in such situation, here.

Women wets her burqa to cool off the head of this elderly man

Thanks to God, who has provided us with this government and KE, KWSB, KMC, WAPDA, Karachi Meteorological Department and Sindh Police, Civil/Jinnah Hospital and PIA, etc., without which we couldn’t have gained piety in this holy month of Ramazan. This is a sarcastic statement, but they really tested our patience. How could people (eg living in first world countries), in relative quiet time and peaceful living, get the chance to demonstrate patience and tolerance, when everything is easy for them. You know, many of those people (living abroad), run into a situation where they can’t find enough people eligible for ‘zakat’ (person living below poverty line), people under stress, and destitute families, that they have to turn to the third-world countries, to fulfill their obligation of zakat (giving alms).

Both the people with the means and luxuries of life are tested (‘Ibtilah’) and also those who are living in poverty. But, God tests more the pious people, so as to test the strength of their faith and to give them a chance to increase their level of ‘taqwa’ (piety).

{Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: “We believe,” and will not be tested. And We indeed tested those who were before them. And Allaah will certainly make (it) known (the truth of) those who are true, and will certainly make (it) known (the falsehood of) those who are liars, (although Allaah knows all that before putting them to test).}[al-Ankaboot 29:2-3] – Quran

Indeed, in order to earn such blessings, we have to observe patience and not get agitated, under any circumstance, like that which Karachiites (specially the poor) are enduring through lack of basic essentials like water and electricity, the trouble of getting CNG, increased beggary, raging traffic and the rising mercury level.

“Great reward comes with great trials. When Allah loves a people, He tests them, and whoever accepts it attains His pleasure, whereas whoever shows discontent with it incurs His wrath.” Narrated and classed as hasan by at-Tirmidhi (2396); classed as saheeh by al-Albaani in as-Silsilah as-Saheehah, no. 146 – Hadith

So, those who did observe patience and those who got martyred through the heat-wave, mugged, or endured heat or lost someone/something dear to them, and did not complain and observed ‘sabar’ (patience) and remained thankful to the blessings of Allah, must have gained His ultimate favor.

{Only those who are patient shall receive their reward in full, without reckoning.}[Az-Zumar 39:10] – Quran

Although, it wasn’t wise to observe ‘fast’, during those extreme heat-wave period, specially for the weak (who are exempt anyways) and impoverished (who risk their lives), and specially when the government was adding to their misery, failing to provide electricity and water. I have written another post on how to avoid, identify and recover from heatstroke. But, I am sure, who did fast naively and with the sole ‘neeyat’ (intention) of gaining Allah’s favor, would definitely get their reward. During Friday sermons/prayers, I noticed lots of people, under open scorching sun, stood perspiring from head-to-toe, saying prayers.

That’s indeed a great sight, of the level of faith in the society, under such tough circumstances.

{And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Saabiroon (the patient). Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: “Truly, to Allaah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.” They are those on whom are the Salawaat (i.e. who are blessed and will be forgiven) from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His Mercy, and it is they who are the guided ones.} [Al-Baqarah 2:155–157] – Quran

Such, calamity also provides us the opportunity to perform those acts of kindness that I noticed many people of Karachi demonstrated, by volunteering to provide drinking water with ORS (necessary salt) to hundreds of thousands of people in shantytown and hospitals, across the city. The noble acts of planting trees (Neem tree) followed, which is a ‘sadqa –e- jareeha’ (eternal reward).

Neem tree plantation, by volunteers

Allah’s Messenger (sa) said: “There is none amongst the Muslims, who plants a tree or sows a seed, and then a bird, or a person or an animal eats from it, but it is regarded as a charitable gift from him.” (Bukhari) – Hadith

Everyone volunteered either with their money, or time, effort, awareness or encouragements, in whatever manner they could, to serve their fellow Karachiites. Acts of kindness and sacrifice, when you have plenty to share or when you are trouble-free, is obviously easy. One of the reasons for fasting in the month of Ramazan, apart from giving a break to your body, is to feel for the poor, who are hungry and thirsty and learn to observe control without any discontent. If we are awake all night, eating or just hanging around with friends and sleeping next day in AC, or remain in AC anyways, you’ll still fulfill the obligation, but you will miss to observe hunger or thirst and a feeling for the poor. Similarly, in the middle-east, it’s common these days to see temperatures has high as 40-50oC. But still, you don’t get such opportunity of giving and sharing with the impoverished, that you get in Karachi.

11705471_10155757487850072_2188371522267574757_o Food given to a child11536507_1137088642987883_3840152461339580152_oWater distribution - hospitals

So, the real metal is proven, when under such dire circumstances, Karachiites showing their heart for such immense level of brotherhood, is a pleasant sight, something we must be thankful for.

Umar ibn Hazm reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “There is no believer who consoles his brother at the time of a calamity but that Allah the Exalted will clothe him with noble garments on the Day of Resurrection.” – Hadith

Pakistan is known for its philanthropy and the month of ramazan sees its phenomenal rise, where you see hundreds of thousands of people giving charity, by providing free ‘iftaar’ (food boxes), arrange places for ‘taraweeh’ (evening prayers), give free ration to the hungry, give cash to the poor (‘zakat’) and donations to hospitals and charity organizations, was overwhelming to observe in this Ramazan. Somehow, such information is never highlighted in the news. The reason, I almost stopped turning TV on.

Water streetsmedicinesPoor man receiving waterIftaar box

Last but not the least, such acts of nobility aren’t complete, without the mention of Abdul Sattar Edhi’s Edhi Foundation, who provided funeral services to the sudden death of hundreds of people during the peak heat-wave, which no one was able to handle, government, least bit. Our leaders (in the government) should understand their job is to serve and to protect, and not to rule us. There is a painful hellfire waiting for them, if they neglect their duties and let such a magnitude of people suffer like that. But, anyhow, it turns out to be a blessing in disguise, where it provided us the opportunity to expiate our sins and reminded us of the true path.

Thus calamities, trials and tests are signs of love from Allaah for the believers. They are comparable to a cure; although it may be bitter, you accept it because it is from the one whom you love; and to Allaah belongs the best example. As comes in the hadeeth, the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said: “The magnitude of the reward is proportional to the magnitude of the affliction. When Allaah سبحانه وتعالى loves some people, He tests them. He who is content (with Allaah’s decree) will receive the Pleasure (of Allaah سبحانه وتعالى); and he who is discontent will attain the wrath (of Allaah سبحانه وتعالى).”[10] Related by at-Tirmidhi and Sheikh al-Albaanee رحمه الله graded it Saheeh. – Hadith

So, we should observe patience under any circumstance and do good to others, in the best way you can. But that does not mean no accountability for the leaders (government officials), responsible for this debacle. Part of the ‘sabr’ (patience) is to stop them from committing this hardship on the people at large. It’s also our responsibility to protest. It’s indeed same as committing oppression, when you bear oppression and does not voice your concern or fight back.

May Allah, grant maximum reward to these people who served their fellow beings (‘huquooq ul ebad’) and give us ‘sabar’ (patience) and strengthen our faith during such difficult times and save us from actual calamity and give us ‘toufeeq’ (guidance) to make the most of this month, so that we get your ultimate favor, Aameen! May Allah, also give guidance to our leaders (in government) and save them from hellfire, Aameen!

Verily we belong to Allaah and to Him we shall return. O Allaah help me in my calamity and bring me something better in return, Aameen!

Two things define you: Your patience when you have nothing and your attitude when you have everything. – Unknown

* Many of the photos, I’ve taken myself and many I’ve gathered from volunteers on social media.