When heat becomes dangerous, you need to know what to watch for and how to avoid a medical emergency.

At the height of summer, blistering temperatures can lead to heat exhaustion or even heat stroke. Here's how to recognize the signs and what to do about the symptoms.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are several ways to identify heat exhaustion. Look for the following:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Pale, clammy skin that feels cold
  • A fast pulse that seems weak
  • Headaches and/or dizziness
  • Nausea and/or vomiting

When you recognize the signs of heat exhaustion coming on, you have to act fast. Get out of the heat and loosen your clothing. Take a cool shower if you can, or press cold cloths to your skin to bring down your temperature. Sip, don't chug, water to rehydrate yourself. Seek immediate medical attention if symptoms persist or worsen.

If left untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to a more serious condition known as heat stroke. Noticeable symptoms include:

  • Hot, reddened, dry, or damp skin
  • Body temperature of 103 degrees or higher
  • A fast pulse that seems strong
  • Headache and/or confusion
  • Losing consciousness

Call 911 if you suspect someone has fallen into heat stroke territory. While you wait for help, get out of the heat as soon as possible and follow the same steps as above to cool the person down quickly. A cool shower or bath is best if you can manage it.

Before you cancel your outdoor plans, keep in mind there are several things you can do to beat the heat this summer. Seek shelter or create your own with a wide-brimmed hat or umbrella. Direct sunlight only magnifies symptoms, so take a break during the hotter midday hours. Stay home or run your indoor errands like taking a leisurely trip to the grocery store.

If you plan on being outdoors for extended periods of time, stay hydrated with water and sports drinks. Wear loose, light-colored clothing that won't draw in or trap heat. Parents should keep a close eye on children when the outdoor temperatures soar. Sometimes irritability and crying aren't just "kids being kids." Last but not least, remember that heat-related illnesses can occur even at night.

For more information about heat exhaustion and other heat-related illnesses, visit the CDC website.

Do you have any tips for fending off heat exhaustion when you're out and about? Share them with us in the comments.