Safety Talk: Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of Heat Illness

Summertime is upon us and so are the opportunities for employees and family members alike to experience heat ill­nesses. High temperature and humidity, direct sun or heat, limited air movement, physical exertion, poor physical con­dition, and some medicines are contributing factors to heat illnesses.

When the body is unable to cool itself by sweating, sev­eral heat-induced illnesses, such as heat stress, heat cramps, or heat exhaustion, and the more severe heat stroke, can occur and can result in death. There are three degrees of heat illness: heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. They range in symptoms from mild and easily correctable to severe and life threatening, if not recognized and taken care of immediately.

Many heat-related deaths are preventable when the signs and symptoms are recognized and respected.

Signs and Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion or Heat Stroke

(Not in any specific order)

n Fatigue.

n Excessive thirst.

n Drenching sweats, often accompanied by cold, clammy skin.

n Muscle aches and cramps.

n Weakness.

n Confusion or anxiety.

n Fainting.

n Nausea or vomiting.

n Headaches.

n Dizziness or vertigo.

n Loss of consciousness.

n Hot, flushed, dry skin.

n Rapid heart rate.

n Decreased sweating.

n Shortness of breath.

n Convulsions.

n Decreased urination.

n Blood in urine or stool.

n Increased body temperature (104 to 106 degrees Fahrenheit).

Source: OSHA, Web MD

Heat stroke can occur suddenly, without any symptoms of heat exhaustion. If a person is experiencing symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, OBTAIN MEDICAL CARE IMMEDIATELY. Any delay could be fatal.