Heat-Related Illnesses — Beware the Dog Days of Summer
Summer days can be long, hot, humid and exhausting. Depending upon the type of work you are doing outside, your employees could run the risk of becoming sick or even dying from a heat-related illness. Here, CM Regent explains different illnesses that may result from heat, and what you can do to treat them:
Heat stroke – This is the most serious of the heat-related illnesses. It occurs when the body is unable to control its core temperature.
• Hot, dry skin or profuse sweating.
• Slurred speech.
• Throbbing headache.
• Call 911 immediately; do not leave the victim unattended.
• Move the victim to a cool, shaded area.
• Soak the victim’s clothes in water and place ice in the groin, armpits and back of neck.
Heat exhaustion – This is the body’s response to losing a large amount of water and salt through sweating.
• Heavy sweating.
• Extreme weakness, fatigue and dizziness/confusion.
• Nausea and/or muscle cramps.
• Clammy, moist skin and a pale or flushed complexion.
• Rest in a cool, shaded or air-conditioned location.
• Drink water or other cool beverages, but avoid caffeine.
• Monitor symptoms; if there is no improvement within one hour, seek medical attention.
Heat cramps – This condition usually affects people who sweat a lot during strenuous activity. Sweating decreases the amount of salt in the body, which leads to cramps.
• Muscle cramps, pain or spasms in the abdomen or legs.
• Drink water and have an electrolyte-replacement liquid, such as Gatorade, every 15-20 minutes.
• Have a snack.
• Seek medical help if the victim has heart problems or if the cramps do not stop within one hour.
Heat rash – This is a skin irritation caused by excessive sweating during hot weather.
• Looks like a red cluster of pimples or small blisters.
• Located on the neck, upper chest, groin, under the breasts and in elbow creases.
• Keep the rash area dry.
• Do not use ointments or creams, but you can try powder.
• When possible, move the victim to a cooler area.
Heat syncope – This is a fainting or dizziness episode that results from standing too long or rising suddenly from a sitting position. It often occurs because of dehydration.
• Light-headedness while standing or rising.
• Sit or lie down in a cool place.
• Slowly drink water, juice or a sports drink.
For more information on employee safety risks, visit cmregent.com/risk-control/resources.