As local temperatures climb into the 90s, and humidity remains high, there is an increased risk of heat-related illnesses. According to Army Public Health Center, there are several things to minimize the danger: before training, ensure adequate hydration, sleep and nutrition; start hydrating before and throughout the activity, but not exceeding 1 quart per hour; and replenish salts and nutrients via food intake.
Working in an excessively hot environment can be difficult – and even fatal. Heat can create a number of safety problems and illnesses, including heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which can be fatal.
Heat can also cause people to become inattentive, short-tempered, dizzy and slow. All of these conditions can cause you to work in an unsafe manner.
Heat illness warning signs
Heat Cramps. Affects muscles in the arms, legs and abdomen … those that have been used while working. These cramps may occur after work, when the person is resting. Heat cramps are a signal the body has lost too much salt through sweating.
Heat Exhaustion. A serious condition that needs immediate attention. It may have any or all of these symptoms: exhaustion; nausea; dizziness; pale and clammy skin; quick pulse; and low blood pressure. Heat exhaustion is also a warning the mechanism which controls heat for the body has become seriously overtaxed. Heat stroke may follow, if heat exhaustion is not treated.
Heat Stroke. Heat stroke is a serious matter and it can be fatal. It occurs when the body’s heat-control mechanism simply shuts down. Perspiration stops and the body temperature rises. The heart pounds and the skin becomes flushed and hot. This condition is a medical emergency and must be treated immediately.
➲ Get gradually used to working in the heat. Alter work routines to reduce heavy exertion in the heat of the day.
➲ Take frequent rest breaks when working in hot conditions. These breaks can consist of moving to a cooler area or switching to lighter work for a while.
➲ Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration. The body loses water through perspiration, so you need to replenish it frequently. Do not drink alcoholic beverages or caffeinated beverages, which cause people to lose even more water and salt.
➲ Dress lightly and in layers so that you can subtract or add clothing as the temperature changes. Be sure to shade the skin against the sun.
➲ Use sunscreen.
➲ Watch each other for signs of heat illness. Mild cases can be treated by moving a person to a cool area and giving them water to drink.
➲ Remind your employees to watch each other for signs of heat illness.
➲ Protect yourself and others during extreme heat and stay #Weather-Ready. For more, weather.gov/heat.
The Wet Bulb Globe Temperature is a measure of heat stress. To learn more, visit home.army.mil/belvoir, type “safety office” in the search bar at top of page.