When the temperature rises, your body and car have a lot in common: If you push either one too hard, they can overheat! This safety edition of the BCN HR Blog discusses how you can avoid heat illness, recognize its symptoms, and how to treat it whether on the job, working in the yard, or even relaxing by a pool or lake:
Follow the suggestions below and learn how to stay cool in hot weather:
- Wear loose, light-colored clothing and a hat.
- Adapt to hot conditions gradually and avoid overexerting yourself during peak temperature periods.
- Drink water frequently—at least eight ounces every 20 to 30 minutes. Stay away from liquids containing caffeine; they tend to increase urination, which causes rapid depletion of body liquids.
The signs and symptoms of heat illness include:
- Heat Cramps – severe muscle spasms in the back, stomach, arms, and legs, which are attributed to the loss of body salt and water during periods of heavy perspiration.
- Heat Exhaustion – heavy sweating, cool or pale skin, nausea, headache, weakness, vomiting, and fast pulse.
- Heat Stroke – high body temperature, no sweating, red and often dry skin, rapid breathing and pulse, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, confusion, or unconsciousness.
Treating heat illness as soon as possible is very important. Follow the first-aid suggestions below:
- Heat Cramps – move to a cooler area and allow the person to drink approximately six ounces of water every 15 minutes. Follow up with a medical examination.
- Heat Exhaustion – move to a cooler area and keep the person lying down with their legs slightly elevated. Cool their body by fanning and applying cool, wet towels, and allow a conscious victim to drink approximately six ounces of water every 15 minutes. Follow up with a medical examination.
- Heat Stroke – instruct a bystander (if present) to call an ambulance. Meanwhile, move the person to a cooler area, remove outer clothing, immersing the person in cool water or apply cool, wet towels or cloths to the body. Do NOT give liquid, and treat for shock until professional help arrives. Heat stroke is life-threatening, so move fast!
The risk of heat illness increases with age, poor diet, being overweight, insufficient liquid intake, poor physical condition, and/or when taking medication. Never take salt tablets without your doctor’s approval.
Here’s a link to a heat illness poster you can print off and post in break rooms and employee traffic areas or even place on your refrigerator door.
Patrick Boeheim, Risk Manager