Safety Series: Summer Heat
The heat of summer is in full swing, which means the risk of heat illness is high for workers who spend long hours outdoors and on job sites. Every year, thousands of workers suffer from heat-related illnesses, some even resulting in death. These illnesses and deaths are preventable. As you plan your day, it is important to think about how you’re going to stay hydrated, so that you don’t become a victim of heat illness.
The body normally cools itself by sweating. During hot weather, especially with high humidity, sweating isn’t enough. Heat illnesses can range from heat rash and heat cramps, to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Quick facts about heat exhaustion:
- Heat injuries occur when the body reaches 104 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.
- In 2006, the second hottest year on record, 3,100 US workers had a heat-related illness that caused them to miss work.
- The most prone to heat exhaustion are people with high blood pressure and people working in a hot environment.
- The survival rate for heat exhaustion, when quick and appropriate treatment is given, is 100%.
8 TIPS TO PREVENT HEAT ILLNESS:
- Drink water every 15 minutes, even if you’re not thirsty.
- Avoid sugary drinks as they cause you to become more dehydrated.
- Rest in the shade to cool down.
- Wear a hat and light-colored clothing.
- Learn the signs of heat exhaustion:
- Heavy sweating
- Cold, pale, and clammy skin
- Fast or weak pulse
- Nausea or vomiting
- Eat a light lunch, as a heavy lunch on hot days can increase the risk of heat-related illness.
- Keep an eye on fellow workers.
- Stay up to date on the weather forecast for the upcoming day(s). If high temperatures are expected, hydrate the night before.
Read OSHA’s heat-related illnesses and first aid guide here.
Taking the above precautions is the easiest way to ensure a safe summer.