Heat-related illnesses can be deadly. Thousands become sick every year and many die due to preventable, heat-related illnesses. With summer temperatures rising, now is the best time to prepare for working outdoors in excessive heat by following a few simple steps.
HEAT-RELATED ILLNESS: KNOW THE SIGNS
It's important to know the signs of heat-related illness—acting quickly can prevent more serious medical conditions and may even save lives.
- Heat Stroke is the most serious heat-related illness and requires immediate medical attention. Symptoms include: confusion, fainting, seizures, very high body temperature and hot, dry skin or profuse sweating. CALL 911 if a co-worker shows signs of heat stroke.
- Heat Exhaustion is also a serious illness. Symptoms include: headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, thirst and heavy sweating. Heat fatigue and heat rash are less serious, but they are still signs of too much heat exposure.
If you or a co-worker has symptoms of heat-related illness, tell your supervisor right away. If you can, move the person to a shaded area, loosen his/her clothing, give him/her water (a little at a time), and cool him/her down with ice packs or cool water.
TO PREVENT HEAT ILLNESS: WATER.REST.SHADE.
- Drink water every 15 minutes, even if you are not thirsty.
- Rest in the shade to cool down.
- Wear a hat and light-colored clothing.
- Learn the signs of heat illness and what to do in an emergency.
- Keep an eye on fellow workers.
Acclimate – "easy does it" on your first days of work; be sure to get used to the heat and allow yourself to build up a tolerance. Not being used to the heat is a big problem. Many of the people who died from heat stress were either new to working in the heat or returning from a break. Workers that have not worked in hot weather for a week or more need time to adjust to the heat again.
This is OSHA’s fifth year implementing its Heat-Illness Prevention Campaign. Consider making this a topic during your safety meetings or hold a Safety Stand Down on the warning signs of heat illness. Check out OSHA's Training Resources page for handouts, videos and more.
Stay safe during the hot weather.