Cover Story

Prevent Heat Illnesses. Know the Signs and Act.

Summertime can put employees at risk for heat illnesses. High temperatures 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, heat-induced illnesses such as heat stress, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke can quickly worsen and eventually cause death. Symptoms range from mild and easily correctable to severe and life-threatening, if not immediately addressed.

Many heat-related deaths are preventable when employees recognize the symptoms and know what to do. Watch out for these signs:

n Hot, dry skin or profuse sweating;

n Headaches;

n Confusion or dizziness;

n Nausea or vomiting;

n Rapid pulse;

n Muscle cramps;

n Weakness or fatigue; and

n Rashes.

If employees experience signs of heat-related illnesses, they must seek immediate medical assistance by calling 911. Employees can also be proactive and beat the heat with these tips:

1. Hydrate before, during, and after work. Prevention is important — drink at least 8 ounces of water every 20 minutes.

2. Dress appropriately for the weather. On warm days, wear light-colored, loose-fitting, and breathable clothing to keep your body temperature down.

3. Use the shade to stay cool. When possible, use shaded areas to stay out of direct sunlight.