Summer has only started and it’s HOT with temperatures topping out in the 90’s this week. Workers who are exposed to extreme heat or work in hot environments are at risk of heat stress. Heat stress can result in heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, or heat rashes.
Those at greatest risk of heat stress include people who are 65 years of age or older, are overweight, have heart disease or high blood pressure, or take medications that may be affected by extreme heat.
Types of Heat stress
- Heat Stroke– This is the most serious heat-related disorder. 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. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not given. Symptoms include: hot, dry skin or profuse sweating, hallucinations, chills, throbbing headache, high body temperature, confusion/dizziness, and slurred speech.
- Heat Exhaustion– Heat exhaustion is the body’s response to excessive loss of the water and salt, usually through excessive sweating. Symptoms include: heavy sweating, extreme weakness or fatigue, dizziness and confusion, nausea, clammy and moist skin, pale or flushed complexion, muscle cramps, slightly elevated body temperature and fast or shallow breaking.
- Heat Cramps– Heat cramps usually affect workers who sweat a lot during strenuous activity. This sweating depletes the body’s salt and moisture levels. Low salt levels in muscles causes painful cramps. Muscle pain or spasms usually in the abdomen, arms or legs.
- Heat Rash– Heat rash is a skin irritation caused by excessive sweating during hot, humid weather and looks like a red cluster of pimples or small blisters.
How you can beat the heat this summer
- Wear light-colored, loose-fitting, breathable clothing such as cotton; avoid
non-breathing synthetic clothing.
- Take breaks in the shade or a cool area when possible.
- Drink water frequently. Drink enough water that you never become thirsty.
Approximately 1 cup every 15-20 minutes.
- Avoid alcohol, and drinks with large amounts of caffeine or sugar.
- Be aware that protective clothing or personal protective equipment may increase
the risk of heat stress.
- Monitor your physical condition and that of your coworkers.