Heat Illness

HIGH TEMPERATURE + HIGH HUMIDITY + PHYSICAL WORK = HEAT ILLNESS

When the body is unable to cool itself through sweating,

seriousheat illnesses may occur. The most severe heat induced illnesses are heat exhaustion and heat stroke. If left untreated, heat exhaustion could progress to heat stroke and possible death

HEAT EXHAUSTION

What are the symptoms?

HEADACHES; DIZZINESS OR LIGHTHEADEDNESS; WEAKNESS; MOOD CHANGES SUCH AS IRRITABILITY, CONFUSION, OR THE INABILITY TO THINK STRAIGHT; UPSET STOMACH; VOMITING; DECREASED OR DARKCOLORED URINE; FAINTING OR PASSING OUT; AND PALE, CLAMMY SKIN

What should you do?

Act immediately. If not treated, heat exhaustion may advance to heat stroke or death.

Move the victim to a cool, shaded area to rest. Don’t leave the person alone. If symptoms include dizziness or lightheadedness, lay the victim on his or her back and raise the legs 6 to 8 inches. If symptoms include nausea or upset stomach, lay the victim on his or her side.

Loosen and remove any heavy clothing.

Have the person drink cool water (about a cup every 15 minutes) unless sick to the stomach.

Cool the person’s body by fanning and spraying with a cool mist of water or applying a wet cloth to the person’s skin.

Call 911 for emergency help if the person does not feel better in a few minutes

HEAT STROKE – A MEDICAL EMERGENCY

What are the symptoms?

DRY, PALE SKIN WITH NO SWEATING; HOT, RED SKIN THAT LOOKS SUNBURNED; MOOD CHANGES SUCH AS IRRITABILITY, CONFUSION, OR THE INABILITY TO THINK STRAIGHT; SEIZURES OR FITS; AND UNCONCIOUSNESS WITH NO RESPONSE

What should you do?

Call 911 for emergency help immediately.

Move the victim to a cool, shaded area. Don’t leave the person alone. Lay the victim on his or her back. Move any nearby objects away from the person if symptoms include seizures or fits. If symptoms include nausea or upset stomach, lay the victim on his or her side.

Loosen and remove any heavy clothing.

Have the person drink cool water (about a cup every 15 minutes) if alert enough to drink something, unless sick to the stomach.

Cool the person’s body by fanning and spraying with a cool mist of water or wiping the victim with a wet cloth or covering him or her with a wet sheet.

Place ice packs under the armpits and groin area.

OTHER, LESS SERIOUS HEAT ILLNESSES INCLUDE:

Heat rash, (

known as prickly heat) May occur in hot and humid environments where sweat is not easily removed from the surface of the skin by evaporation. When extensive or complicated by infection, heat rash can be so uncomfortable that it inhibits sleep and impedes a worker’s performance or even results in temporary total disability. It can be prevented by resting in a cool place and allowing the skin to dry.

Cause: Heat buildup in the skin due to clogged pores and sweat ducts. Prolonged skin wetness from sweating.
Symptoms:Area becomes reddened and may itch or hurt. Skin eruptions.

First Aid: Practice good personal hygiene; keep the skin clean and the pores unclogged, allow skin to

dry, wear loose clothing, see doctor if rash persists.

Seriousness: Relatively minor.

Fainting

(heat syncope) May be a problem for the worker unused to a hot environment who simply stands still in the heat. Victims usually recover quickly after a brief period of lying down. Moving around, rather than standing still, will usually reduce the possibility of fainting.Cause: the body’s circulation system allows blood to “pool” in the lower extremities causing insufficient blood, and oxygen in the brain. Caused by long periods of standing in the heat, or, after being seated for a while, suddenly standing up.Symptoms: Fainting.First Aid: Lay victim in a cool location horizontally with feet elevated. If conscious, give fluids. Treatment the same as shock.Seriousness: Victim may take a day or two to recover. May subsequently be more sensitive to heat until re-acclimated.

Heat cramps

are painful spasms of the muscles, are caused from a loss of important electrolytes in the blood and muscle tissues due to excessive amounts of “salts” being lost in the victim’s sweat or when workers drink large quantities of water but fail to replace their bodies’ salt loss. Tired muscles — those used for performing the work — are usually the ones most susceptible to cramps. Cramps may occur during or after working hours and may be relieved by taking liquids by mouth or saline solutions intravenously for quicker relief, if medically determined to be required.Symptoms:Cramping of either voluntary (skeletal) muscles or involuntary (principally abdominal) muscles (or both).First Aid: Replenish electrolytes through drinking of fluids constituted for this purpose such as Gator-Ade, PowerAde, etc. Rest in a cool environment.Seriousness: May debilitate the victim for several days. Full recovery is necessary before going back into heat stress conditions.

How can you protect yourself and your coworkers?

Learn the signs and symptoms of heat-induced illnesses and how to respond.

Train your workforce about heat-induced illnesses.

Perform the heaviest work during the coolest part of the day.

Build up tolerance to the heat and the work activity slowly. This usually takes about 2 weeks.

Use the buddy system, with people working in pairs.

Drink plenty of cool water, about a cup every 15 to 20 minutes.

Wear light, loose-fitting, breathable clothing, such as cotton.

Take frequent, short breaks in cool, shaded areas to allow the body to cool down.

Avoid eating large meals before working in hot environments.

Avoid alcohol or beverages with caffeine. These make the body lose water and increase the risk for heat illnesses.

What factors put you at increased risk?

Taking certain medications. Check with your health-care provider or pharmacist to see if any medicines you are taking affect you when working in hot environments.
Having a previous heat-induced illness.

Recent illness involving diarrhea, vomiting, or fever

Alcohol consumption during the previous 24 hours

Wearing personal protective equipment such as a respirator or protective suit. Proper PPE in high heat areas includes light weight clothing and equipment as available, light-colored and “breathable” garments. When respiratory protection or body suits must be worn, engineering controls such as swamp coolers and fans and administrative controls including frequent breaks and rotation of workers should be implemented.

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