Extreme-Heat Safety: Just Working Outside On a Hot Day Puts You At Risk

If the body cannot rid itself of the heat it is producing, or being exposed to, it will literally overheat. The body's normal temperature is around 98.6&defgF (37°C). Anything above a couple of degrees warmer and things begin to shut down, including the brain and organs.

Workers working outdoors in hot environments are the most susceptible. But heat emergencies can also occur to workers in hot indoor environments, such as, firefighters, construction workers, cooks, factory workers. Factors that might make it worse include; heavy clothing, humidity, medical conditions, certain medications, lack of acclamation, dehydration, age (young and old are more susceptible), etc. There are three major levels of severity; heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Warning signs

Heat Cramps

  • Severe muscle cramps.
  • Sweating.
  • Feeling tired.

Heat Exhaustion

  • Muscle cramps.
  • Sweating.
  • Slight headache.
  • Feeling tired.

Heat Stroke

  • Severe headache.
  • Sweating may stop.
  • Pale dry skin.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Very weak and tired.
  • Weak irregular pulse rate.
  • Shallow fast breaths.
  • Very disoriented or even unconsciousness.

Heat Safety Precautions

  • Take regular breaks.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (juice, water, not coffee and alcohol).
  • Monitor for warning signs and stop activity if needed.
  • Use a schedule where most work is done in non-hot times of the days, if possible.
  • Wear protective clothing.
  • If new to this type of work allow some time for acclimatization.
  • Have proper ventilation in the work area.
  • Use fans and air conditioners.
  • Reduce humidity.
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