Posts Tagged ‘Heat Safety’

It’s definitely summertime and it’s definitely hot!  Every year, thousands of workers become sick from occupational heat exposure.  These illnesses are completely preventable and everyone must recognize the symptoms of HEAT RELATED ILLNESS during hot weather.    The types of HEAT RELATED ILLNESS are Heat Stress, Heat Cramps, Heat Exhaustion, and Heat Stroke.   Below is a description of the symptoms of each and treatment recommendations:

  1.  Heat stress is a buildup of body heat.   Heat stress, without proper precautions, can develop into heat exhaustion or heat stroke, a potentially fatal condition. As the internal body temperature increases, the heart rate rises and the body becomes overwhelmed.
  2.  Heat cramps are caused by dehydration and are the mildest form of HEAT RELATED ILLNESS.  Symptoms include muscle cramps, which can lead to muscle spasms.  Dehydration is usually coupled with heat exhaustion.  Treating heat cramps is as simple as drinking water and getting to a cooler area.
  3. Heat exhaustion is caused by strenuous activity, like working outdoors in the heat.  Symptoms of heat exhaustion and dehydration include headaches, sweating, irritability, nausea, chills, weakness, vomiting, fainting, a rapid weak pulse, flushed or pale skin, confusion, blurred vision, and dizziness.  The best way to prevent and treat heat exhaustion and dehydration is to avoid it from happening in the first place by drinking enough water throughout the day that you never become thirsty. Approximately 1 cup every 15 – 20 minutes is recommended, even if you are not thirsty. Avoid large amounts of caffeine or sugar in sports drinks because they can accelerate dehydration if not properly balanced with water. Take more breaks in extreme heat and humidity and take breaks in the shade or a cool area when possible. To treat severe heat exhaustion, elevate legs, pour cool water over the skin and drink water or other liquids that will replace electrolytes.
  4. Heat stroke is the most serious HEAT RELATED ILLNESS.  It occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body’s temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down.  Symptoms include red hot dry skin, confusion, fainting, or convulsions.  Treatment for heat stroke is similar to the other heat-related injuries, but emergency paramedic services should be contacted and efforts made to cool the person’s body temperature. One quick effective way to bring the body temperature down is to put a cool wet cloth behind the neck and soak their clothes with cool water.

By changing work practices, such as increasing work/rest cycles, drinking more water, drinking an occasional sports drink to replace electrolytes, and knowing what to do in case of a HEAT RELATED ILLNESS, lives can be saved.    I will ensure that we cover HEAT RELATED ILLNESS at our next safety meeting – what about you?

STAY SAFE!     **  Jeff  **   214-215-2434

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