Beat the Heat – What You Need to Know About Heat Stressors
When the body is unable to cool itself through perspiration, serious heat illnesses occur. Two important heat-related illnesses include heat exhaustion and heat stroke. If proper actions are not taken to treat heat exhaustion, the illness could progress to heat stroke – possibly resulting in death.
Age, weight, overall physical fitness, metabolism, alcohol or prescription drug use, and a wide variety of medical conditions can affect a person’s sensitivity to heat. It is difficult to predict exactly when or if someone will be affected. Exertion, air temperature, humidity, direct sun, localized exposure to radiant heat sources (i.e. boiler) and heavy clothing such as protective suits and respirators are other factors to consider.
Heat Rash – Body heat is released through sweating; but, when it’s humid, the skin can remain moist for prolonged periods. If the sweat glands become clogged a rash can develop; oftentimes termed prickly heat.
Heat Cramp – Muscles can develop painful cramps or spasms due to salt imbalances in the body. Sweating profusely without replacing the lost fluids can sometimes cause cramps.
Heat Exhaustion – Heat exhaustion may result when a large amount of body fluid has been lost through sweating. The symptoms may include headache, weakness, fatigue, and nausea.
Heat Stroke – This is the most severe form of heat stress. It is a life threatening condition that occurs when the body’s thermoregulation system fails. In heat stroke, the victim’s skin is hot and dry. Body temperatures are typically 105o F or higher. The victim is mentally confused; oftentimes outright delirious, some become convulsive or even unconscious.
Drink small amount of water and other fluids frequently throughout the day. About 5 to 7 ounces every 15 to 20 minutes is recommended. Avoid drinks containing caffeine or alcohol as these beverages impair the body’s ability to thermo regulate. Wear light, loose-fitting, breathable clothing and become accustomed to heat gradually. Know the symptoms of heat disorders and understand corrective actions necessary to assist a stricken coworker. In extreme heat situations implement a ‘buddy-system’ where one person checks in on the other, and vice versa.
For more information on loss control services contact Jeff Rausch, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, P: 502-708-3124 www.RMSC.com
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