Home

Taming the Heat Wave

PDFPrintE-mail

heat-waveThe hot weather in July can have a debilitating effect on those who work outside or in hot environments, such as bakeries, laundries, and foundries. These conditions can be hazardous to their safety and health. Here are some tips for staying cool: Those hot, humid summer workdays are more than an uncomfortable annoyance—they can cause heat stress, which can be life-threatening if proper precautions aren’t taken. Heat stress is an ever-present danger, not only for outdoor workers, but also for those working indoors in hot environments.

Sweating is one way the body uses to maintain a stable temperature in the face of heat.

Sweating is only effective if the humidity level is low enough to permit evaporation and if the fluids and salts that are lost are adequately replaced.

If the body cannot dispose of excess heat, it will begin to store it. When this happens, the body’s core temperature rises and the heart rate increases. An overheated person will begin to lose concentration, become irritable, and may even lose the desire to drink. The next step is fainting and then possibly death if the individual is not cooled down.

Heat_TIPSDangerous Heat Disorders

Here is what you should know about the more dangerous symptoms of heat stress and how to treat them:

Heat stroke—The most serious health problem, its signs include:

  1. Mental confusion, delirium, convulsions or coma;
  2. A body temperature of 106 degrees F or higher;
  3. Hot, dry skin with no sweating.

Note: Victims of heat stroke will die if not treated promptly. Seek medical help, move victim to a cool area ,and soak the clothing in cool water. Vigorously fan the victim until help arrives.

Heat exhaustion—Signs are clammy skin, weakness, nausea, headache, and body temperature higher than normal. Treatment involves resting in a cool area and drinking water or, better yet, an electrolyte sports beverage to restore minerals lost during sweating.

Heat cramps—This painful condition indicates that you have been drinking lots of water, but you haven’t replaced the salts lost. Drinking electrolyte solutions should help. Don’t massage the cramping area.

Heat_Safety_TipsNote: Experts no longer recommend using salt tablets to treat heat cramps.

Take precautions to prevent becoming a victim of heat stress yourself, here are some precautions to take:

  • Gradually adjust to a hot climate by working shorter hours at first and then increasing the time exposure and workload slowly over a period of days.
  • Take plenty of rest breaks in a cool area.
  • Drink a lot of fluids, including water and sports beverages. Avoid caffeinated or alcoholic drinks.
  • Occasionally douse yourself with water.
  • Wear lightweight, loose fitting clothing, including a brimmed hat and sunglasses.
  • Apply all-day sunscreen to avoid sunburn.