Beware of Temperature Extremes – HEAT
Do service calls ever happen on the hottest day of the year? Outside work presents challenges beyond just the weather, but the weather can certainly add to the challenge. Knowing ahead of time how to prepare for and handle high heat and humidity will be invaluable for keeping yourself safe from illness and injury caused by extreme temperature.
The Dangers of Heat
Normally, your body does a good job of cooling itself, but if exposed to high heat and humidity for extended periods, your cooling system may fail. The result could be a heat-related illness. It can start mildly, but can worsen if left untreated.
Heat cramps are painful muscle contractions. Your body temperature may be normal.
Heat exhaustion symptoms include increased body temperature (as high as 104°F), nausea, vomiting, headache, fainting, weakness, and cold, clammy skin. Untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke.
Heatstroke is life-threatening. Body temperature goes over 104°F. You may stop sweating even though your skin may be hot. Immediate medical attention is crucial for preventing brain damage, organ failure, or even death.
- Muscle cramps
- Nausea or vomiting
If you develop any of these symptoms, don’t ignore them. You must get out of the heat, lower your body temperature, and hydrate. If possible, remove extra clothing and fan your body or wet down with cool water. If you don’t feel better within a half hour, go to a doctor.
If you have signs of heatstroke, don’t wait—go to a doctor immediately. Once you have had heatstroke, you’re more susceptible to getting it again.
Pace yourself. Know your fitness and tolerance level.
Drink plenty of water or sports drinks. Avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks.
Keep areas ventilated. If working in an attic or roof crawl space, mechanically ventilate the area.
Dress appropriately. Wear light-colored, lightweight, loose fitting clothing, and, if possible, wear a lightweight, wide-brimmed hat.
Whenever possible, stay out of the midday sun. Do your most strenuous work during the cooler parts of the day.
Wear sunscreen. A sunburn makes it harder for your body to cool itself.
Know your medical risks. Certain conditions or medications can make you more vulnerable to a heat-related illness.
Keep an eye on your co-workers. If you notice someone displaying any of the symptoms of heat illness, act immediately.
Learning the risks of working in hot weather will help keep you and your team safe at work.
For more detailed information on topics in this article, visit the Mayo Clinic website.
Safe@Work is brought to you by Federated Insurance®. This article is for general information and risk prevention purposes only and should not be considered legal, medical, or other expert advice. It is not a guarantee that the risk of loss will be eliminated or reduced. Always consult your personal physician for questions regarding your health concerns. The information is accurate as of December 2013 and is subject to change.
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