Heat-related illnesses are a real thing and a big concern both on a personal level and a professional level. If you find yourself working in hot weather or hot environments, whether outside or at your place of employment, the items below are important for you to consider to ensure you stay safe while working.
Symptoms of Heat Stress/Exhaustion/Stroke
- Extremely high body temperature
- Hot, dry, skin – an inability to cool the body through perspiration may cause the skin to feel dry
- Increased heart and respiration rates as blood pressure drops and the heart attempts to maintain adequate circulation
- Throbbing headache, nausea or vomiting due to dehydration
- Weakness, fainting, or dizziness – especially if standing position is assumed quickly – due to low blood pressure from dehydration
- Muscle cramps
- Dark-colored urine – a sign of dehydration
- Confused, hostile, or seemingly intoxicated behavior
- Pale or bluish skin color in advanced cases due to constricted blood vessels
- Seizures or unconsciousness
If you are experiencing Heat Stress symptoms, follow the steps below:
- Notify your supervisor immediately. If he/she is not around, notify a co-worker.
- Sit down if you’re standing
- Move to a cooler or air-conditioned environment
- Loosen clothing
- Drink water!
How to Avoid Heat Stress/Exhaustion/Stroke
A glass first thing in the morning is great for you. Then drink it frequently throughout the day. If you think you’ve had a lot, you can probably have more!
If water gets boring, try the following:
- Coconut water
- Add electrolyte powders
- Add fruit or cucumber
- Freeze cubes of no-sugar added juice then add to your water
- Drink hot tea or ice it down
- Add water enhancers
- Look for those with limited to no added sugars, limited to no caffeine, and be careful to consider sodium levels, if needed
- Mix in sports drinks (like Gatorade) but not too many
Avoid and/or Limit These Beverages
- Pop or Soda
- Energy Drinks
- Sweet Tea
- Too Much Coffee
- Hot Cocoa
- Beer, Wine, Liquor
- Flavored Milk
Eat Water-Rich Foods
- Bell Peppers
- Plain yogurt
- Skim Milk
- Lower Sodium Broths and Soups
- Cottage Cheese
It is critical that the body rests and receives an appropriate amount of sleep each evening. This includes taking it easy before and after work as well as ensuring you sleep the recommended 6-9 hours of sleep each evening.
Keep in Mind
- Sweat cools the body when it evaporates. The more you sweat, the more fluids you need.
- Check your urine – it should be pale yellow and clear. If it’s darker, you are likely dehydrated.
- Take cool showers if possible. This limits sweating and thus keeps you hydrated.
- By the time you’re thirsty, you are already 2% hydrated.
- Drink hydrating fluids frequently and consistently, rather than large amounts at limited times. This maintains consistent hydration.
- Avoid excessive amounts of sodium/salt. Sodium acts as a binder and maintains fluids within your body but too much sodium/salt can hold excess amounts of fluids which creates a burden on your hear. It also increase your blood pressure and increase risk of stroke.
- What you do today affects today, tomorrow, and each day. Be consistent at staying hydrated.
About the Author
Kim Mooney, Technical Manager & Coach