Are You Ready for Summer’s Heat?

It may not seem like it, but summer is right around the corner. With summer and its high temperatures and humidity, come heat-related illnesses. Now is the perfect time to think about how you and your co-workers can avoid these illnesses.

Prolonged exposure to hot, humid conditions puts you at risk of heat illnesses. The risk increases if you’re doing heavy work tasks or wearing heavy, bulky clothing. Your body normally cools itself by sweating. During hot weather, especially with high humidity, sweating isn’t enough to cool you down. Your body temperature can rise to dangerous levels if you don’t take the proper precautions.

Heat Cramps – Affects workers who sweat a lot during strenuous activity. Sweating depletes the body’s salt and moisture levels.

   Symptoms –

  • Muscle cramps, pain, or spasms in the abdomen, arms, or legs

   First Aid / Immediate Treatment –

  • Stop all activity and sit in a cool place
  • Drink clear juice or a sports beverage, or drink water with food
  • Avoid salt tablets
  • Do not return to strenuous work for a few hours after the cramps subside
  • Seek medical attention if you have heart problems, are on a low-sodium diet, or if the cramps don’t subside within one hour

Heat Exhaustion – The body’s response to the loss of water and salt, usually through sweating.

   Symptoms –

  • Rapid heart beat
  • Heavy sweating
  • Extreme weakness or fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Irritability
  • Fast, shallow breathing
  • Slightly elevated body temperature

   First Aid / Immediate Treatment –

  • Rest in a cool area
  • Drink plenty of water or other cool beverages
  • Take a cool shower, bath, or sponge bath

Heat Stroke – The most dangerous heat-related illness. This occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature. Heat stroke can cause permanent disability or death.

   Symptoms –

  • High body temperature
  • Confusion
  • Loss of coordination
  • Hot, dry skin or profuse sweating
  • Throbbing headache
  • Seizures, coma

   First Aid / Immediate Treatment –

  • Request immediate medical assistance
  • Move the worker to a cooler, shaded area
  • Remove excess clothing and apply cool water to their body

To protect yourself against heat-related illnesses, avoid heavy exertion, extreme heat,sun exposure, and high humidity whenever possible. If these conditions can’t be avoided, take the following preventative measures:

  • Monitor your physical condition and that of your co-workers for signs or symptoms of heat illnesses
  • Wear light-colored, loose-fitting, breathable clothing, such as cotton. Avoid non-breathable synthetic clothing.
  • Gradually build up to heavy work
  • Schedule heavy work during the coolest parts of the day
  • Take more breaks when doing heavier work, and in high heat and humidity. Take breaks in the shade or a cool area.
  • Drink water frequently. Drink enough water that you don’t become thirsty.
  • Be aware that protective clothing or personal protective equipment may increase the risk of heat-related illnesses

Replacing electrolytes and minerals lost while sweating is also an essential part of fighting off the effects of heat stress. Providing your workers with electrolyte replacement drinks or tablets will help keep them hydrated, healthy, and safe.

Over exposure to high heat and humidity can be dangerous. With the proper training and proper precautions to prevent heat-related illness, you can protect your health and the health of your co-workers. If you have questions about how any of our products can help you minimize the risk of heat-related illnesses, give our Technical Support Reps a call at 800-922-8553, or email techsupport@northernsafety.com. They’re here to help!

Northern Safety Co., Inc.
PO Box 4250. Utica, NY 13504-4250
Phone: 1-800-571-4646
Fax: 1-800-635-1591

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