As temperatures rise, it’s important to be aware of damaging heat-related illnesses and take the necessary steps to prevent them.
When the body is unable to cool off by sweating, heat-induced illnesses, such as heat rash, cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke can occur. These illnesses can be serious, sometimes even resulting in death. Factors leading to heat stress include:
- High temperature and humidity
- Direct sun or heat
- Limited air movement
- Physical exertion
- Poor physical condition
- Some medications
- A lack of tolerance for hot workplaces or areas
Know the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses. Dizziness, dehydration, loss of coordination, heavy sweating, headaches, and nausea are just some potential symptoms.
While it’s possible to build a tolerance of a limited amount of heat, always take preventive action as soon as possible.
Heat stress prevention tactics include:
- Monitor yourself and your co-workers.
- Block or avoid direct sunlight or other heat sources.
- Use cooling fans or air conditioning.
- Take regular breaks in shaded areas.
- Drink plenty of water or high-electrolyte fluids.
- Wear lightweight, light-colored, and loose-fitting clothing.
- Avoid alcohol, caffeinated drinks, and heavy meals.
If you detect signs of heat exhaustion, notify a supervisor or appropriate individual with first aid training.
Remember that most heat-related illnesses can be prevented by taking appropriate precautions. To learn more about specific illnesses tied to heat stress, click here.