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Preventing Heat-Related Illnesses: A Quick Guide

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As the weather begins to heat up, it is important to review the steps in identifying heat-related illnesses including how to prevent or treat heat exhaustion.

Headaches, dizziness or light-headed, weakness, irritability, confusion, nausea, pale and clammy skin, and dark-colored urine are all signs of heat exhaustion. If these are not treated quickly, you increase the chances of heat stroke. The symptoms of heat stroke are similar to heat exhaustion, but are characterized by fainting, seizures or fits, and hot red skin (similar to a sunburn in appearance). An individual suffering from heat stroke usually stops making sense during conversations, and loses general awareness of his or her surroundings. Heat stroke is a medical emergency and should be treated as such.

Below are the steps to take to prevent and treat heat exhaustion as well as heat stroke.

Prevention

  • Remain hydrated (about 1 cup every 15 minutes).
  • Know the signs of heat-related illness, and monitor co-workers.
  • Block out direct sun or other heat sources.
  • Use cooling fans/air-conditioning.
  • Take regular rest breaks.
  • Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothes.
  • Avoid caffeinated drinks (they dehydrate your body).

Heat Exhaustion

  • Move to a cool, shaded area. Never be left, or leave someone, alone. If dizzy or light-headed, lie on back and raise legs about 6-8 inches
  • Loosen or remove heavy, hot clothing.
  • Drink cool water.
  • Cool the skin with a cool spray mist of water, wet cloth, or fan.
  • Call 911 if there is no improvement within a few minutes.
  • If not treated, this may advance to heat stroke

Heat Stroke

  • Call 911 or other emergency services
  • If ice is available, place ice packs in armpits and groin area.
  • Do not leave this person alone.
  • Move to a cool, shaded area and lay them on back. If seizures are present, remove all objects close to him or her. If they are vomiting, lay them on their side.
  • If he or she is alert enough to drink water, let them drunk small amounts of cool water unless nauseous.
  • Fan and cool the skin with a wet cloth or a cool spray of water.
  • Remove all heavy, hot clothing.

It is important to review this information with your team before continuing work out in the heat. This is especially important with summer quickly approaching and record seasonal temperatures recorded across the country. If you have any questions or concerns regarding heat stress, please contact The Integrated Group at 425-822-8500 or info@theintegratedgroup.com

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