When working in an environment with hot temperatures, high humidity or prolonged exposure to the sun, the risk for heat illness rises. It is important to understand how to keep yourself as safe as possible in these conditions. Common types of heat illness include heat rash, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
The most dangerous type of heat illness is heatstroke. Heatstroke occurs when your body is no longer capable of controlling its temperature. During heatstroke, your body’s temperature can rise to 106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher in as little as 10 to 15 minutes. Symptoms of heatstroke include:
- Body temperature over 103 degrees Fahrenheit
- Hot, dry, damp or red skin
- Strong, rapid pulse
- Passing out
- Lack of sweating
Heatstroke can result in death or permanent disability if treatment is not provided in a timely manner.
If you notice that a co-worker may be suffering from heatstroke, take the following steps:
- Call 911.
- Move your co-worker to a cooler location.
- Do not give your co-worker anything to drink.
- Try to lower your co-worker’s body temperature with cool cloths or a cool bath.
In order to prevent heat illness, follow these tips:
- Stay hydrated—Drink water frequently, and avoid alcohol, coffee and caffeinated soft drinks.
- Dress light—Wear loose-fitting, light-colored and lightweight clothing.
- Pace yourself—Take your time, and avoid overexerting yourself.
- Know the signs—Be aware of heatstroke symptoms, and look out for both yourself and your co-workers.
If you have any questions about working safely in extreme heat and humidity, talk to your supervisor.