11 Jul 2014

Summer is finally here and the temperatures are rising; it is important to be safe, smart and aware of how you and your co-workers are feeling in the extreme heat.  Heat stroke and heat exhaustion are the most serious health illnesses caused by hot environments and a danger for people who work outside. Below are some warning signs and prevention of overheating and keeping your body cool this summer.

Many heat stroke victims usually don’t recognize their own symptoms; therefore it is important for co-workers be able to detect the warning signs in order to seek first aid and medical help.

Warning Signs can include the following:

  • Heavy Sweating
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Visual Disturbance
  • Intense Thirst
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle Cramps
  • Palpitations
  • Numbness of the hands and feet

How to prevent overheating:

  • Avoid Sun Exposure – Take frequent breaks in the shade or if possible erect a temporary shelter that is cool and well-ventilated that keeps you out of the sun and heat.
  • Stay Hydrated – Drink water (about 1 liter every hour) or drink something with electrolytes (Gatorade, PowerAde, etc.) No caffeine or alcohol, as these will dehydrate you.
  • Sweat – Don’t be afraid to sweat, since this is your body’s most effective cooling mechanism
  • Clothing – To protect yourself from the sun and heat it is important that you cover up as much of your body as possible with loose fitting clothes made of light fabric that “breathes”.  Also wear a hat and protective eyewear to protect your body from the sun’s harmful rays.
  • Acclimate – It is important to build up a level of tolerance when working in the heat. This can be done with training and work practices.

 

Heat Index                         Risk Level                                    Protective Measures
Less than 91°F              Lower (Caution)                   Basic heat safety and planning
91°F to 103°F                Moderate                            Implement precautions and heighten awareness
103°F to 115°F              High                                   Additional precautions to protect workers
Greater than 115°F        Very High to Extreme            Triggers even more aggressive protective measures

It is important for employers and employees to plan for an emergency and know what to do, because acting quickly can save lives.

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