Beat the Heat: Avoid a Heat Stroke
ASSE offers tips to prevent heat-related illness
As summer temperatures rise, so do your chances of heat-related illnesses. In light of this, the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) offers suggestions to beat the heat and avoid these illnesses.
For starters, ASSE suggests workers who are often in high-temperatures take safety precautions now and know the factors leading to heat stress, the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, ways to prevent heat stress and what can be done for heat-related illnesses.
ASSE warns workers about heat exhaustion, which, according to the U. S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), can quickly become a deadly heat stroke. OSHA also offers tips to prevent heat-related illnesses.
In order to prevent a heat stroke, pay attention to how much or little you are sweating. Sweat is your body’s way of cooling itself, so when you don’t sweat you are in danger of heat exhaustion. Factors leading to a rise in body temperature include high temperatures, direct sun or heat, limited air movement, physical exertion, poor physical condition, some medicines, use of bulky protective clothing and equipment and inadequate tolerance for hot workplaces.
ASSE also suggests you know the symptoms a heat stroke. These symptoms are dry, hot skin with no sweating; mental confusion or losing consciousness; and seizures or convulsions. To prevent a heat stroke, block out direct sun or other heat sources, use cooling fans or air conditioning, rest regularly and wear lightweight, light colored, loose-fitting clothes. Additionally, it is important to drink plenty of water; ASSE suggests about one cup every 15 minutes.
ASSE also points out these methods to prevent heat-related illness:
- Insert cooling pads into hardhats or around the neck to keep the head and neck cool.
- Use vented hardhats or neckbands soaked in cold water to minimize prolonged heat exposure and prevent the body from overheating.
- Wear protective eyewear with sufficient ventilation or anti-fog lens coating to reduce lens fogging from the heat.
- Wear sweatbands to prevent perspiration from dripping into the eyes.
- Use gloves with leather palms and cotton or denim backs to allow for an increased airflow while protecting hands.
- Choose gloves with a liner to absorb sweat.
- Wear light-colored, loose-fitting, breathable clothing.
- Take breaks in cool, shaded areas.
- Avoid diuretics such as coffee, tea, alcohol or soda.
- Drink plenty of water.
According to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), heat is the number-one weather-related killer in the nation (Información en Español). To prevent these deaths, NOAA will issue alerts as needed throughout the summer.
Excessive heat outlooks to be issued when the potential exists for an excessive heat event within 3-7 days, excessive heat watches will be issued when conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event within 12 to 48 hours and excessive heat warnings/advisories will be issued when an excessive heat event is expected within 36 hours.