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What is heat stroke, and can someone be held liable?

In Hartford as well as other areas of Connecticut, the summer heat is not expected to go away anytime soon. You and your family may encounter uncomfortably high temperatures throughout much of the fall. This may not pose too much of a problem as long as you are able to stay cool. However, overexposure to hot weather without a reprieve can result in serious illness, and may even be life-threatening.

Heat stroke is one of the most dangerous effects of heat exposure, according to the Mayo Clinic. If you spend too much time in the sun or in a hot room, your body temperature may become dangerously elevated. The effects are even worse when combined with dehydration and sunburn. If you develop heat stroke, your symptoms may include confusion, nausea and slurred speech, with a temperature of 104 degrees or higher. Your skin may appear flushed and will usually be hot and dry to the touch, although you may sweat in some circumstances. Your heartbeat and breathing may also be rapid.

If someone you know develops heat stroke, 911 should be called and you will need to cool the person down immediately. Providing drinking water may help, as well as using cool, wet cloths, a cool bath or ice packs.

There may be a few instances in which someone could be held liable for a person developing heat stroke. If, for instance, you work in construction and were not allowed to take breaks in the shade or have adequate access to drinking water, your employer might be held accountable. Your child's school or daycare also might be held responsible, if teachers had the children play outside in high temperatures or study in an overheated classroom without taking precautions against heat illness.

Not everyone – an apartment manager, for example – may be held responsible for conditions that led to heat stroke. Liability may be more likely in cases where you were forced to work in unsafe conditions or not provided with a means of relief.

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