Keep Your Cool This Summer
You may not be able to do anything about the hot temperatures this summer, but you certainly can do a lot to help prevent heat illness. As an employee you should follow these health smart tips for beating summer heat hazards, both on and off the job.
Practice prehydration: Before you start any outdoor physical activity, drink up to 16 ounces of fluid. After the activity begins, drink 8 ounces every 20 minutes during the activity.
Drink the right stuff: Studies by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) have shown that flavored water is more effective than plan water at providing hydration. This is because plain water is much better at quenching thirst and, therefore, people drink less of it. (Also never drink alcoholic beverages and limit caffeinated beverages when recreating out in the heat.)
Become acclimated to the heat slowly: Take your time, don’t let too much sun in one day’s time ruin your whole week. The CDC recommends 5-7 days exposure to slowly acclimate to the heat. A sunburn reduces the body’s ability to dissipate heat.
The CDC also recommends not wearing a hat in the heat, as hats keep the heat in. If you need shading, wear a visor or summer hat/cap that is vented.
- Wear the right fabric: Cotton is great at absorbing moisture from the skin while sweating, but it can create a problem if the fabric becomes soaked. If possible, wear a loose, thin synthetic material. Synthetic fabrics will keep you cooler and safe from the dangers of heat illness. (Synthetic material does not absorb heat, but instead, sends it off the skin to be quickly evaporated.)
- And of course if available, spend more time in air conditioned places as it reduces danger from heat.
So what are heat disorder symptoms you should watch for?
(American Red Cross)
Sunburn: Most of us have experienced a sunburn one time or another. It causes redness and pain. In severe cases swelling of skin, blisters, fever and headaches. First aid: Try using ointments for mild cases if blisters appear. Serious sunburns should be seen by a doctor.
Heat cramps: Painful spasms usually in the muscles of legs and abdomen with heavy sweating. First aid: Firm pressure on cramping muscles or gentle massage to relieve spasms and give sips of water.
Heat exhaustion: Heavy sweating, weakness, skin cold, pale and clammy. You may feel faint and be nauseous. First Aid: Get out of sun, lay down and loosen clothing. Apply cool, wet cloths and if possible get to an air conditioned room or close to a fan. Take sips of water but if you are continually nauseous seek medical attention.
Heat stroke or sunstroke: High body temperature (106° or higher), hot dry skin, rapid pulseand possible unconsciousness. First aid:
Heat stroke is a serious medical emergency condition and immediate doctor and hospital care is needed. Don’t delay. Move a victim of heat stroke to a cooler environment, reduce body temperature with a cold bath or sponging. If available use a fan or air conditioning to reduce body temperature. Do not give fluids.
How hot is it?
The chart below shows how hot it really feels when relative humidity is factored with the actual air temperature. The Heat Index Chart zone that is above 105° F shows a level that may cause severe heat disorders with continued exposure and/or physical activity.