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Preventing Heat Illness

As the summer heat rolls on and continues to set record high temperatures, safety minded individuals start thinking about all of the things we need to have to get us through life! Oddly enough, these critical elements do not include mobile phones, streaming TV, or air-conditioning (although those things are really nice to have!). When we peel back and funnel down the categories in the “Nice to Have” or “Need to Have” areas, we find ourselves truly only needing to have one thing – WATER! Covering approximately 71% of the earth’s surface, there are really no excuses not to have some close by during the high-heat months of the south.

For those who enjoy number crunching, that’s about 326 Million – Trillion Gallons of the WATER! on earth, so there is plenty of it to go around.  If you need a visual on exactly how much water that actually is…. think a lot of zero’s – 18 zeros’ to be exact (326,000,000,000,000,000,000).  Trying to understand that amount of anything can be mind-numbing, but our primary focus of this safety alert is to concentrate on the fact that we need to provide our bodies with nature’s most precious element.  With the temperature and heat indexes continuing to soar, there is no greater time to better understand the impact and consequences of not providing your body with the appropriate amounts of WATER! In short, be mindful of the conditions that you are working in and around as well as looking out for you co-workers! Take simple steps to prepare your body for the day’s work ahead. This can include checking local weather forecasts, drinking lots of WATER, before, during, after and everything in between while working in and around hot and humid conditions.

Common symptoms of heat exhaustion?

  • Muscle cramps
  • Heavy sweating
  • Pale or cold skin
  • Weakness and confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Dark-colored urine

More severe, symptoms of heatstroke include:

  • Fever of 104 or higher
  • Flushed or red skin
  • Lack of sweating
  • Trouble breathing
  • Fainting
  • Seizures

In extreme working conditions, sometimes your body’s natural cooling system simply isn’t enough. Heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke pose a very real threat to outdoor workers.

Follow these simple steps to keep yourself cool and safe:

  • Wear loose, light-colored clothing and some type of hat.
  • Be conscious of warm conditions, especially if performing strenuous tasks.
  • Take breaks in the shade when possible, and remove any protective gear you may be wearing.
  • Avoid overexertion during peak temperature hours, especially midday.
  • Drink plenty of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty—at least 8 ounces every 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Be sure to pack plenty of water, especially those individuals who are working off-site.
  • Stay away from drinks that contain caffeine—such as coffee, tea or soda—as they can dehydrate you.
  • Monitor your fluid levels by using the following “Urine Color Chart”