|Every year, thousands of heat-related illnesses, such as heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, fainting and heat rash, can be prevented by taking some simple precautions. Many conditions affect an individual’s heat tolerance, including temperature, humidity, airflow and radiant heat from the sun. Personal factors such as age, weight, physical fitness and other medical conditions must also be considered. Fans, ventilation systems, dehumidifiers and air conditioners regulate heat indoors, but outside work requires more consideration. Keep the following tips in mind when working outside.
Alternating work with periods of rest in a cool area can help you avoid heat stress. If possible, the heaviest work should be scheduled during the cooler parts of the day. Supervisors should be trained to detect early signs of heat stress and permit workers to rest if they begin feeling the symptoms of excessive heat.
Sweating is the primary way your body cools itself. But too much sweating can result in large water losses. Dehydration can be prevented by drinking at least eight ounces of water every 30 minutes. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to start replacing lost water. By that time, it’s too late to catch up.
Always wear loose-fitting clothing made from breathable fabrics. This allows air to circulate around your body and prevents heat rash.
Be sure to take short breaks if you feel fatigued, confused or experience nausea. These symptoms could be warning signs of a serious heat-related disorder.
Signs and Symptoms
Heat Stroke: Skin that is red, dry or hot, confusion, fainting, seizures, and often lack of sweating.
First Aid: Call 911, move them to a cooler area, loosen or remove excess clothing, cool by any means, provide water if conscious, and stay with the individual.
Heat Exhaustion: Excessive sweating, headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, irritability and thirst.
First Aid: Move employee to a cooler area, have them drink water, cool with ice packs or compress, stay with them, and seek medical attention if symptoms do not improve after 60 minutes.