Man it's HOT out there!
Heat – Know the Signs of Heat Stress
It turns out that there’s truth to the phrase, "It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity". It can get pretty humid in the Midwest. High temperatures and relative humidity hamper sweat evaporation, which, in turn, hinders you body’s ability to cool itself. That’s when people get into trouble. Whether you’re on a worksite, in a garden or at the gym, sweat evaporation is key for your body to regulate your core temperature. Recommendations include rest, re-hydration, and recognition of signs of heat stress before the symptoms turn to heat stroke.
Sunshine, warm air temperatures, and high humidity stress the body and can cause heat exhaustion. Cars and bodies regulate their temperatures in similar ways. If you’re driving down the road and the temperature gauge in your car starts to move toward hot and you stop the car to give it a break, you may be able to drive again. If you keep on trucking, your car will likely overheat. It’s the same way with people. You need to stop, take a break, and take care of yourself. Don’t plow on.
With heat exhaustion, the body sweats to cool off, but in hot, humid conditions, the sweat does not evaporate. This creates sensations of weakness, dizziness, clammy skin, headaches, or fainting. Whether you experience these symptoms or see them in someone else, the best treatment is rest.
Lie down, loosen clothing, and get into the shade or a cool environment.
If you know that you will be working outdoors, begin consuming fluids before you go out. Hydrating the day before and the hour before you start outside work. Drink extra fluids before you go outside – avoiding caffeine or alcohol. If you’re already thirsty, it’s too late.
Without treatment, heat exhaustion can turn into heat stroke in as little as 15 minutes. One sign of the transition from heat exhaustion to heat stroke is going from profuse sweating to no sweating at all.
The body temperature rises to 103 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s a bad thing. Heat stroke affects the brain, causing confusion and unconsciousness. A person can also have a fast, strong heartbeat and rapid, shallow breathing. If you are with someone experiencing heat stroke, call 911. You’re beyond what you can do. While you’re waiting for emergency response, get the person to a cool environment. Cool their skin with whatever you have – fans, cool packs, ice – but don’t give them fluids.
Accept the forecast
You may not be able to change the weather forecast, but you can plan for working in summer weather. Grinnell Mutual recommends the following to help stay cool and avoid heat illnesses. When possible, avoid direct sunlight and stay in the shade from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Spend at least two hours a day in air conditioning, either in your home or in a public place such as a library. Speak with your medical professional about your medications and whether you may be more sensitive to sun or dehydration. Dress for the weather, wear light clothing – light in weight and light in color – and a wide-brimmed hat.
Enjoy the summer but know what it takes to keep yourself and your family safe!