Be Mindful of the Dangers In the Summer’s Heat.
As summer approaches and the days get longer, the dangers of working outside during hot weather also increase. Knowing how to work safely in hot weather can help prevent heat stress injuries1 and heat stroke. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), heat stroke is the most severe heat-related disorder.
It occurs when the body can no longer control its temperature. The body temperature can rise to 106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher within 10 to 15 minutes, and heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided. Other heat-related disorders include heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat rash.
When driving in your cool air-conditioned vehicle, be mindful that when you have stopped and parked, DO NOT leave anyone (grown-up or child), including pets, in your vehicle, even if you think it will only be for a few minutes. “A child’s body temperature rises three to five times faster than an adult, and when a child is left in a hot vehicle, the situation could become life-threatening very quickly,” says JJ Miller, safety adviser with AAA East Central.
A reported twenty-five children died in hot cars in 2020, a death was reported as early as April, and tragedies continued into November2. Animals can die of heat stroke within 15 minutes, and cracking open a window DOES NOT HELP! During hot weather, leave your pet at home!
Symptoms and Prevention of Heat-Related Disorders
- Dry, hot reddish skin and lack of sweating
- High body temperature
- Strong, rapid pulse
- Slurred speech
Heat stroke occurs when the body no longer sweats, and body temperature reaches dangerous levels.
- Excessive sweating
- Weakness or fatigue
- Dizziness and/or confusion
- Clammy skin
- Muscle cramps
- Flushed complexion
Heat exhaustion is the body’s response to the loss of water and salt, typically through sweating.
- Muscle pain, usually in the abdomen, arm, or legs.
- Muscle spasms are usually in the abdomen, arm, or legs.
Heat cramps are painful cramps in the body’s muscles due to low salt levels and are typically caused by excessive sweating.
- Red cluster of pimples or small blisters
- Usually on the neck and upper chest, groin area, under the breasts, and elbow creases.
Heat Rash is an irritation of the skin caused by excessive sweating.
Ten Hot Weather Safety Tips
Drink plenty of fluids; drink about sixteen ounces before starting and 5 to 7 ounces every 15 or 20 minutes.
Avoid dehydrating liquids
Alcohol, coffee, tea, and caffeinated soft drinks can hurt more than help.
Wear protective clothing
Lightweight, light-colored, and loose-fitting clothing helps protect against heat. Change clothing if it gets completely saturated.
Slow down and work at an even pace. Know your limits and ability to work safely in the heat.
Schedule frequent breaks
Take time for rest periods and water breaks in a shaded or air-conditioned area.
Use a damp rag
Wipe your face or put it around your neck.
Avoid getting sunburn
Use sunscreen and wear a hat if working outside.
Avoid direct sun
Find shade or block out the sun if possible.
Be alert to signs of heat-related illness
Know what to look for and check on other workers that might be at high risk.
Eat smaller meals
Eat fruits high in fiber and natural juice. Avoid high protein foods.
The ECCL wishes you a delightful summer but be mindful of the dangers of being out in the sun too long, and do not leave any children or pets in your vehicle, even briefly in the summer heat.
- Hot! Hot! Hot! Preventing Heat Illness, Pat O’Brien, Society Insurance Senior Risk Control Representative. https://societyinsurance.com/blog/hot-hot-hot-working-in-warm-conditions/
- Children, Pets, and vehicles. https://www.weather.gov/safety/heat-children-pets