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 be avoided. There are precautions you should take any time temperatures are high and the job or activity involves physical work.
Risk Factors for Heat Illness
- High temperature and humidity, direct sun exposure, no breeze or wind.
- Low liquid intake; previous heat illnesses.
- Heavy physical labor.
- Waterproof clothing.
- No recent exposure to hot workplaces.
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion
- Headache, dizziness, or fainting, thirst, nausea, or vomiting.
- Weakness and wet skin.
- Irritability or confusion.
Symptoms of Heat Stroke
- May be confused, unable to think clearly, pass out, collapse, or have seizures.
- May stop sweating.
- Know the 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. Avoid alcohol or caffeine.
- Wear lightweight, light colored, loose-fitting clothes.
- Be aware that poor physical condition, some health problems (such as high blood pressure or diabetes), pregnancy, colds and flu, and some medications can increase your personal risk. If you are under treatment, ask your healthcare provider.
What to do When Someone is Ill From the Heat
- Call for help. If the supervisor is not available, call 911.
- Have someone stay with the person until help arrives.
- Move the person to a cooler / shaded area and remove outer clothing.
- Fan and mist the person with water; apply ice and provide cool drinking water if available.
If the person is not alert or seems confused, they could be having a heat stroke. Call 911 immediately.