Any worker exposed to hot and humid conditions is at risk of heat illness, especially those doing heavy work tasks or using bulky protective clothing and equipment. Some workers might be at greater risk than others if they have not built up a tolerance to hot conditions, including new workers, temporary workers, or those returning to work after a week or more off. All workers are at risk during a heat wave.
It is very important to watch out for each other during extreme heat. Simple overheating and dehydration can quickly become dangerous.
Here is what to look out for and what actions to take.
Heat Stroke: High body temperature, hot, dry skin, rapid pulse, and possible unconsciousness can come on quickly.
Action: Call 911. If you see a victim with these warning signs, they need immediate medical attention. Until medical help arrives, move the victim to a cooler environment and reduce body temperature with a cold bath or sponging.
Heat Exhaustion: Heavy sweating, weakness, wet skin, headache, dizziness / fainting, irritability / confusion, thirst, and nausea / vomiting are early signs.
Action: First aid includes getting the victim out of the sun, having them lie down, loosening clothing, applying cool, wet cloths, and administering sips of water.
Heat Cramps: Muscle spasms or pain (usually in the abdomen, arms, or legs).
Action: Have worker rest in shady, cool area, Drink water or other cool non-alcoholic beverages, Wait a few hours before returning to work, Seek medical attention if cramps continue.
Heat Rash: Clusters of red bumps on the skin (often on the neck, upper chest, or in folds of the skin).
Action: Work in cooler, less humid environment when possible. Keep the affected area dry.
The body normally cools itself by sweating. During hot weather, especially with high humidity, sweating isn’t enough. Body temperature can rise to dangerous levels if you don’t drink enough water and rest in the shade. You can suffer from heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
Water. Rest. Shade. Slow down, reschedule, or reduce strenuous activities until it is cooler. Wear lightweight and light colored clothing and don’t forget to wear a hat. Don’t exceed your physical capabilities and give yourself time to become acclimated to the activity and high temperatures. Drink plenty of water and non-alcoholic beverages that your body needs to keep cool. Keep a sharp lookout for coworkers, family, children, and the elderly. Don’t forget the pets.