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HealthWiki > A Community Guide to Environmental Health > Appendix A: Safety and Emergencies > Shock

Shock is a life-threatening condition that can result from a large burn, losing a lot of blood, severe illness, dehydration, severe allergic reaction, acute toxic exposure, or other emergency situation.

Signs of shock
  • Mental confusion, weakness, dizziness, or loss of consciousness
  • Weak, rapid pulse
  • Cold sweat: pale, cold, damp skin
  • Blood pressure drops dangerously low
To prevent or treat shock

At first sign of shock, or if there is risk of shock:

A man covered with a blanket lies on a stretcher that has been propped up at one end so his feet are higher than his head.
  • Have the person lie down with his feet a little higher than his head.
  • Stop any bleeding and treat any wounds.
  • If the person feels cold cover him with a blanket.
  • If the person is able to drink, give sips of water. If he is dehydrated, give a lot of liquid, and rehydration drink.
  • If the person is in pain, give aspirin or other pain medicine, but not one with a sedative, such as codeine.
  • Stay calm and reassure the person.

If the person is unconscious:

  • Lay him on his side with his head low, tilted back and to the side (see above). If he has a neck or spine injury, do not tilt his head or move his back.
  • If he has vomited, clear his mouth right away.
  • Do not give anything by mouth until he becomes conscious.
  • Seek medical help.