Heat-Related Illnesses: Symptoms and Prevention

Heat Exhaustion

With record-breaking temperatures showing up again this summer, Worker Care wants to make sure you’re prepared.  Being aware of what heat related illnesses look like will help you monitor your employees’ health during another scorching Yakima Valley summer. When you have a job to get done, it’s easy to let simple things like taking breaks and staying hydrated slip your mind. That’s why it’s so important for yourself and your employees to be aware of the signs of heat related illness.

 

Heat Rash

Heat rash is caused by sweat sitting on the skin, which causes irritation. This is pretty common in any hot working environment. When heat rash occurs, remove yourself from the humid and hot environment until it’s more suitable for work. It’s also important to keep the affected area clean and dry.

 

Heat Cramps

Heat cramps can occur when the body has been profusely sweating, losing fluids and salt. These will likely affect those doing physical labor in the summer heat; however, anyone who is not taking preventative steps in the heat is at risk of suffering from these painful cramps. Cramps can set in during or after work, and are a sign that your body needs fluids and rest away of the extreme heat. If the cramps do not improve, get into Worker Care as fast as you can.

 

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is caused by excessive sweating, resulting in the loss of a large amount of fluids. Some symptoms include headaches, dizziness, nausea, thirst, weakness and irritability. Untreated, heat exhaustion can be dangerous and may lead to heat stroke, so it’s very important to treat exhaustion with care. Find a cool place to sit or lie down, drink fluids and get to Worker Care for evaluation. It is best if the affected person does not return to work for the rest of the day, just to make sure they make a full recovery.

 

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is a life threatening illness that should be treated as soon as symptoms appear. The first symptom is usually that sweating stops. More serious symptoms may include confusion, dizziness and lack of consciousness. If a co-worker, employer or you show these symptoms while working in the heat, call 911 immediately. While waiting for emergency response, remove the affected person from the heat and fan or cool them with cold compresses or ice in an effort to bring down body temperature.

 

Prevention

Remember that to prevent all of these heat related illnesses, from the life threatening to the inconvenient, it’s important to take regular breaks throughout the day in a cool, dry place. If you’re in the heat wearing heavy clothing, take off jackets and hats during breaks to let your body temperature fall. If possible, wear lighter, more breathable clothing while working in the heat. Stay hydrated by bringing a bottle of water with you to work, and drink regularly and refill often!

 

Following these tips and knowing the symptoms of heat illnesses will help protect yourself and your employees from suffering a potentially dangerous situation, and prevent you from having to come into Worker Care.

Want to learn more?  For more information on heat related illnesses, the symptoms and prevention, visit the OSHA website or give Worker Care a call!

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