Give Heat Illness the Cold Shoulder
Summer is just around the corner, and for many of us at CoolSys, that means it’s time to get ready to work again in the extreme heat of the season. If you don’t take precautions, working in a hot environment can cause heat rash, heat cramps — or even heat exhaustion or heat stroke. The heat can also increase your risk of injury from sweaty hands, fogged-up safety glasses and dizziness. You can even get a nasty burn from contact with a sun-heated surface or steam.
Be on the Lookout for Heat Illness
It’s important to learn the warning signs of heat illness and to stay aware when you and your co-workers are working in extreme heat. Signs of heat exhaustion include:
- Heavy sweating
- Low urine output
- High body temperature
If you see someone with the symptoms of heat exhaustion, move them to the shade and help them cool down by removing their outer clothing, putting cool water and ice on them and fanning them. Encourage them to take frequent sips of water.
When Heat Turns Deadly
Unrecognized and untreated heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke — which can be fatal. Watch carefully for these signs of heat stroke:
- Slurred speech
- High body temperature
- Hot, dry skin — or the opposite: heavy sweating
If you see the signs of heat stroke, call 911 immediately.
Stop Heat Illness Before It Starts
Water. Rest. Shade. These are your best defenses against heat illness. The work can’t get done without them. Drink 1 cup (8 ounces) of water every 15 to 20 minutes whenever you’re working in the sun. Drink even when you’re not thirsty — but avoid sugar, caffeine and alcohol. Also, take frequent breaks out of the sun.
There’s an App for That!
You can stay a step ahead of potentially dangerous heat conditions by downloading the free heat safety app from OSHA-NIOSH. Just search for “OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool” in your app store. The app offers a visual indicator of the current heat index and associated risk levels specific to your current location, as well as recommendations for safety specific to the current heat index.
There is also an interactive, hourly forecast of heat index values, risk level and recommendations for planning your outdoor work activities in advance, and symptoms and first aid information for heat-related illnesses.
It’s going to be hot out there again really soon — so stay aware and stay safe!