A Guide to Spotting and Treating Heat Illnesses

by Jul 21, 2020Safety

Extreme heat and humidity can challenge your body’s ability to adquately cool itself.

When exposed to high temperatures, or when too much fluid or salt is lost from excessive sweating or due to dehydration, body temperatures can rise to dangerous levels.

It is important to know the symptoms of excessive heat exposure and the appropriate responses.

Exposure to heat can cause illness and death. The most serious heat illness is heat stroke. Other heat illnesses, such as heat exhaustion, heat cramps and heat rash, should also be avoided. There are precautions that can be taken any time temperatures are high and the job involves physical work.

Risk Factors for Heat Illness

  • • High temperature and humidity, direct sun exposure, no breeze
    • Heavy physical labor
    • No recent exposure to hot workplaces
    • Low liquid intake
    • Waterproof clothing

Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion

  • • Headache, dizziness, or fainting
    • Weakness and wet skin
    • Irritability or confusion
    • Thirst, nausea, or vomiting

Symptoms of Heat Stroke

  • • May be confused, unable to think clearly
    • Pass out, collapse, or have seizures (fits)
    • May stop sweating

To Prevent Heat Illness

  • • Establish a complete heat illness prevention program.
    • Provide training about the hazards leading to heat stress and how to prevent them.
    • Provide a lot of cool water to workers close to the work area. At least one pint of water per hour is needed.
    • Modify work schedules and arrange frequent rest periods with water breaks in shaded or air-conditioned areas.
    • Gradually increase workloads and allow more frequent breaks for workers new to the heat (acclimatization).
    • Designate a responsible person to monitor conditions and protect workers who are at risk of heat stress.

How to Protect Workers

  • • Know signs/symptoms of heat illnesses; monitor yourself; use a buddy system.
    • Block out direct sun and other heat sources.
    • Drink plenty of fluids. Drink often and BEFORE you are thirsty. Drink every 15 min.
    • Avoid beverages containing alcohol or caffeine.
    • Wear lightweight, light colored, loose-fitting clothes.

What to Do When a Worker is Ill from the Heat

If you suspect someone has heat stroke or other heat illness, call a supervisor for help. If the supervisor is not available, call 911. Have someone stay with the worker until help arrives. Move the worker to a cooler/shaded area. Remove outer clothing. Fan and mist the worker with water; apply ice (ice bags or ice towels). Provide cool drinking water, if the afflicted party is able to drink.

IF THE WORKER IS NOT ALERT or seems confused, this may be a heat stroke. CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY and apply ice as soon as possible.

Want to Learn More?

We take safety seriously at H&K. It’s even part of our company motto, L.I.F.T.S. For more information on our safety programs, call us at 1-800-272-9953 or click the button below to learn more about our safety training classes.

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