How To Avoid Heat Exhaustion And Heat Stroke
1. Stay hydrated
Staying hydrated is key to maintaining a healthy body temperature, particularly during exercise. Drink plenty of fluids the day before and the day of physical activity. During exercise, keep a drink handy that contains salt, electrolytes, and small amounts of sugar, such as Gatorade or Powerade to replenish those substances you have lost while sweating.
You tell us: What are your go-to drinks to stay hydrated in the summer? Tag us on Twitter @MedStarHealth #LiveWellHealthy.
2. Get used to the heat
If you spend most of your time in the air conditioning and suddenly try to run five miles outdoors, your body might not be ready for that kind of heat exposure. Its safer to gradually expose yourself to activity outside during the summer.
3. Maintain a healthy weight
People who are obese are at much greater risk for heat-related illnesses. Carrying excess weight can affect your bodys ability to regulate its temperature and cause you to retain more heat. Talk to your doctor if you need help managing your weight.
4. Wear appropriate clothing
Limit sun exposure when youre outside by wearing a wide-brimmed hat and light, loose-fitting clothing. Also consider bringing an umbrella, awning, or overhang to protect yourself from the sun.
5. Be extra careful if youre sick
6. Use the buddy system
7. Mind the temperature and time
Spending time in the sun is arguably the best part of summer. Make sure to use these tips to stay safe while doing so.
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- What are the warning signs of heat exhaustion and how can I prevent it from worsening?
- What are heat cramps and who can get them?
- What is heat rash and is it dangerous?
- What should I do if Im taking medicine that makes me sensitive to heat?
- How much water should I drink when its hot outside?
- What should I do if I work in a hot environment?
What Are The Types Of Heat Stress
Heat stress is defined as the accumulation of body heat either internally through muscle exertion, or externally due to environmental factors.
What’s worth noting is that farming can simultaneously act as a catalyst for internal and external body heat buildup, therefore accelerating your risk of experiencing heat stress. Farmers die from heat-related illnesses at a rate 20 times higher than any other type of worker in the U.S.
Heat stress is a general term that can unfold into two severe conditions:
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Symptoms Of Heat Exhaustion
· A headache, dizziness, or fainting· Weakness and wet skin· Irritability or confusion· Thirst, nausea, or vomiting
Heat can also increase the risk of injuries in workers as it may result in sweaty palms, fogged-up safety glasses, and dizziness. Burns may also occur as a result of accidental contact with hot surfaces or steam.
Heat Exhaustion Versus Heat Stroke
Heat exhaustion, if left untreated, can lead to heatstroke.
Unlike heatstroke, which can be life-threatening, heat exhaustion does not cause impaired mental function, confusion, or loss of consciousness.
Cases of heat exhaustion are also distinguished from heatstroke because a persons internal body temperature does not go above 103°F.
Heat stroke is less common than heat exhaustion but more serious it puts strain on the heart, lungs, kidneys, and liver.
Heat exhaustion is most often caused by a combination of physical exertion and warm weather.
Additional factors known to increase the likelihood of heat exhaustion include:
- high humidity, usually over 60 percent
- liver or kidney conditions
If heat exhaustion is suspected, a person should stop doing exercise or physical activity immediately. A person with heat exhaustion should also drink fluids as soon as possible.
Further tips for treating heat exhaustion include:
- seeking out a cool, shaded area or going indoors
- loosening clothing
- lying flat on the back
- taking a lukewarm or cool shower
- placing a cool, wet cloth on the face and chest
- in severe cases, putting ice packs under each armpit and behind the neck
- drinking 1 liter per hour of drinks that contain electrolytes, such as Gatorade or Gastrolyte
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How To Manage Heat Stress In The Workplace
Free resources: Download and share safety talk, presenter guide, hazard alert
Heat-related illnesses are cause for concern, and with summer almost here, its time for a refresher on the best ways to beat the heat at work. Keep in mind that severe heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion can occur for several days after dehydration from exposure to high temperatures, according to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, whether you work outdoors as a tree planter, inside a mill, or toil year-round in toasty places like bakeries, foundries, or underground mines.
Top 10 Warning Signs Of Heat Stroke
Symptoms of heat stress can range from mild heat rash or sunburn to severe heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
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Preventive Measures Supervisors Can Take
As explained in the UNC Heat Stress Policy, departments and supervisors with employees who normally work outdoors or in unconditioned indoor environments need to address heat stress in their Hazards Management Plan by including written safe job procedures appropriate to their work and the situation. Preventive measures selected for inclusion in the HMP Job Safety Analysis are at the discretion of the employees supervisor and department. Preventive measures that can be implanted by a supervisor are also called administrative controls or work strategy controls. Administrative controls are strategies using managerial involvement to limit exposure to a particular hazard. In the case of heat stress, administrative controls limit the amount of time an employee is actually exposed to elevated temperatures. Administrative controls can be changes to how the job is performed, or work schedule changes to when the job is performed.
Help Workers Adjust To Hot Environments
The more time a worker has to acclimatize to a hot environment, the better their body handles the heat.
If workers have health problems or are not in good physical shape, they may need more time to adjust to hot environments.
For workers with no experience in hot conditions, there are two ways to help them tolerate the heat:
For workers withexperience in hot conditions, but who may have been ill or away from work for 9 or more days, the worker will need to gradually readjust to the heat.
You can find more information on heat acclimatization from The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health: Heat Stress Recommendations.
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Tips For Preventing Heat
Wear Appropriate Clothing: Choose lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
Stay Cool Indoors: Stay in an air-conditioned place as much as possible. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the shopping mall or public libraryeven a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat. Call your local health department to see if there are any heat-relief shelters in your area.
- Keep in mind: Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, they will not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off. Use your stove and oven less to maintain a cooler temperature in your home.
Schedule Outdoor Activities Carefully: Try to limit your outdoor activity to when its coolest, like morning and evening hours. Rest often in shady areas so that your body has a chance to recover.
Pace Yourself: Cut down on exercise during the heat. If youre not accustomed to working or exercising in a hot environment, start slowly and pick up the pace gradually. If exertion in the heat makes your heart pound and leaves you gasping for breath, STOP all activity. Get into a cool area or into the shade, and rest, especially if you become lightheaded, confused, weak, or faint.
- Tip: Look for sunscreens that say broad spectrum or UVA/UVB protection on their labels- these products work best.
What Are The Symptoms Of Heat Stroke
The following are the most common symptoms of heat stroke. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
The symptoms of a heat stroke may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always talk with your healthcare provider for a diagnosis.
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Risk Factors For Heat Stroke
Older adults whose homes lack air conditioning or proper ventilation are most likely to be affected by heat stroke. Other people who are at high risk of heat stroke include those in any age group who do not drink enough fluids, who have chronic ailments or who drink too much alcohol.
The heat index is strongly linked to heat stroke risk. The heat index measures how hot it feels when relative humidity and temperature are calculated together. Remember, a humidity level of sixty percent or higher hinders the evaporation of sweat, which diminishes your bodys ability to cool off.
When the heat index reaches 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the risk of heat illness increases substantially. This is why it is so important to take note of the daily heat index and to note that being in full summer sun increases the reported index by up to fifteen degrees.
Other risk factors for heat stroke include:
Again, children under 4 and adults over 65 are slower to adjust to heat than other people.
2. Health issues
Many health conditions increase your risk of heat stroke, including:
- Being obese or underweight
- Illegal drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine
What Causes Dehydration
Under normal conditions, we all lose body water daily through sweat, tears, breathing, urine, and stool. In a healthy person, this water is replaced by drinking fluids and eating foods that contain water. When a person becomes so sick with fever, diarrhea, or vomiting, dehydration happens. It also happens if an individual is overexposed to the sun and not drinking enough water. This is caused when the body loses water content and essential body salts, such as sodium and potassium.
Occasionally, dehydration can be caused by medicines, such as diuretics. These deplete body fluids and electrolytes. Whatever the cause, dehydration should be treated as soon as possible.
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How To Protect Workers
The most effective way to reduce the risk of heat stress is to eliminate the source of exposure. If that’s not possible, there are other risk controls to use. When choosing risk controls, start by asking yourself the questions in the following steps, which are listed in order of effectiveness.
Elimination or substitution
Eliminating the hazard by substituting a safer process or material, where possible, is the most effective control. A question to consider:
Making physical modifications to facilities, equipment and processes can reduce exposure. Some questions to consider:
Changing work practices and work policies, awareness tools, and training can limit the risk of heat stress. Some questions to consider:
- Can warning signs be posted in the work area?
- Can cool-down rooms be provided?
- Can workers be acclimated to heat?
- Can water be provided?
Check For Signs Of Heat Exhaustion
The signs of heat exhaustion include:
- a headache
- loss of appetite and feeling sick
- excessive sweating and pale, clammy skin
- cramps in the arms, legs and stomach
- fast breathing or pulse
- a high temperature of 38C or above
- being very thirsty
The symptoms are often the same in adults and children, although children may become floppy and sleepy.
If someone is showing signs of heat exhaustion, they need to be cooled down.
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The Dangers To Workers
As a worker’s body heats up it loses fluids and salt through sweat. As workers dehydrate they are less able to cool themselves down. Workers in a hot environment should be aware of these warning signs of heat stress:
- Excessive sweating
If heat stress is not recognized and treated early, it can lead to heat disorders, which have serious effects on the body. These include:
What Is Heat Stroke
Heat stroke is the most severe heat illness. Heat-related illness is classified as heat stroke when the core body temperature is over 104 degrees Fahrenheit. If you think someone has heat stroke, immediately call 911 or get them to a hospital. In the meantime, treat their symptoms the best you can.
Heat stroke can damage brain cells and other internal organs. It mostly affects people over the age of 50, but has also sickened young athletes who are otherwise fit and healthy.
Escalation from heat exhaustion is usually how heat stroke or sunstroke develops. It often starts with a mild heat-related illness like heat stress and escalates to heat exhaustion. What is most worrisome is that heat stroke can often present itself suddenly with no previous signs of heat illness at all.
A combination of dehydration and extended exposure to high temperatures leads to heat stroke. It can lead to the bodys temperature regulation system failing. Above 104 degrees Fahrenheit, the nervous system develops complications after being exposed to this very high temperature.
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Protect Children From Heat Exhaustion
The long summer days are filled with activities for kids. From camps to organized sports, kids are outside a lot. Even spending days at the local pool can increase a childs risk for heat illness. Children are at higher risk for heat exhaustion than adults because their bodies have less surface area compared to their weight. This makes it more difficult for heat to leave their skin. The best thing you can do to prevent heat exhaustion in children is to proactively make sure they do not become dehydrated.
First and foremost, make sure they drink early and often. Cold water is the best option. When your child goes to play, send them to their activities fully hydrated. While they are playing, see that they take periodic breaks to drink something, even if they claim they arent thirsty. An appropriate size drink for a child is about five ounces if a child weighs 88 pounds.
Signs of dehydration in children are similar to those of adults. Look for tiredness, low energy and dry lips. If a child says he or she is thirsty, they are most likely already dehydrated. Get them to sip water or a sports drink immediately. If your child becomes heat exhausted, immediately stop their play, bring them into a cool or shady area, and treat them with the same tips listed earlier used for adults.
What Causes Heat Stress
One of the most prominent causes of heat stress is lack of hydration. As your body’s temperature begins to rise from exposure to the sun and physical exertion, you begin to lose fluids and salt through sweat – the body’s natural cool-down protocol. As your fluid levels diminish, your body becomes less capable of regulating its internal temperature which typically leads to internal systems failing and shutting down.
Another major factor that can bring about heat stress is improper acclimation to warm temperatures. This is often observed in new employees, employees returning from extended vacation or absence, and employees experiencing a new work environment .
Lastly, one of the more controllable contributors to heat stress is the type of clothing worn on the jobsite. Clothing has a noticeable impact on your body’s ability to regulate its temperature as it is the only barrier between your body and the environment. Heavy materials and darker colours commonly found in “durable” workwear or FR apparel are not always the best option for working outside on a hot day.
A better option is something lightweight like a loose fitting cotton or polyester shirt, and preferably in a light colour. If you require Hi-Viz apparel, it is best to go with something lightweight and breathable like this Lime Green Polyester Traffic T-Shirt
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