As summer's long days get longer and hotter in July, August, and September, we need to be extra dilligent about preventing heat illness at work.
Heat illnesses kill the shocking number of 4,000 Americans yearly. The most susceptible are the old and the young.
However, many people with diseases such as diabetes are also at an increased risk.
Heat Illnesses at Work
The main three heat illnesses are: heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke.
Together, these conditions are known as heat stress.
All can lead to serious complications and heatstroke can even lead to death.
For many of us, we have experienced the early symptoms of heat illnesses such as headache, dizziness, nausea, and fatigue.
Fortunately, you can prevent heat illness at work. And in fact, it's easier than you might think.
Here are 5 easy ways to prevent heat illness:
- Hydrate continuously - When summer months roll around, keep a bottle of water handy at all times and stay hydrated. If you know you are going to be doing strenuous work, or exposed to high temperature, pre-hydrate by drinking extra. This one little move alone will make your summer more enjoyable by preventing headaches, fatigue and nausea. You'll notice a difference in the way you feel.
- Acclimate to the heat slowly - Did you know it takes 5 to 14 days to acclimate to a new climate? This includes going from working indoors, especially in air conditioning, to working outside in the sun. Make sure employees pace themselves, provide breaks, shade, and lots of drinking water.
- Replace your salts - It restricts heat loss through the head. Workers operating in direct sunlight can wear a visor. Sports drinks have electrolytes like sodium and potassium, which the body loses through sweat. These keep the body's fluid levels in balance and help muscles work properly.
- Wear light, loose, thin synthetic fabrics - The body cools itself through evaporation. Wear clothing that is light in color and weight to keep the sun from beating down on you and allow your sweat to evaporate naturally.
- Take breaks - Most of us get used to working at a certain pace and don't like to stray from that. But when the temperatures rise, the body needs more breaks. This isn't the time for pushing a "get 'er done" attitude. Pace your work, add in a few breaks, and you'll find the additional rests actually support production.
If you need to pick up a copy of our Heat Illness Prevention Program, you can get one here.
Want to download the video? You can find it here.