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Heat Stroke Toolbox Talk

Learn about heat stroke, what some sure signs are, and how to fight heat stroke before it causes problems.

Heat Stroke Safety Talk

Working in a hot environment creates hazards in the workplace for employees. Heat stress is something that employees should be well aware of, as hot environments can create indirect safety hazards that typically employees wouldn’t think of. Employees can become fatigued, lose focus on their work tasks, or even lose consciousness from excess heat.

Heatstroke can also cause more direct illnesses such as heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and heat cramps. Deaths due to heat-related issues between 2005 and 2009 rose to higher rates than any other category observed during any other five-year period in the past 35 years. 18 people died in 2014 due to heat-related issues, according to OSHA.

By being aware, properly preventing, and acting quickly, many heat-related deaths can be prevented. When it comes to heat, you can’t mess around, as every minute and every symptom are very important.

What is Heat Stroke?

The most serious heat-related illness is heatstroke. Heat stroke can be very dangerous and is a medical emergency. If you think you or someone you know is suffering from heat stroke, call 911 immediately. Also, get out of the heat as soon as possible. This illness can cause damage to the brain and other internal organs, and can even lead to death. Exposure to prolonged high temperatures (generally in combination with dehydration) results in heat stroke. It leads to failure of the body’s temperature control system.

When someone who is exhibiting signs of heat stroke is not properly treated immediately, it can result in permanent health issues or even death.

Prevention of Heat Illnesses

By following some tips, it can be helpful in preventing heat-related illnesses. While working in hot environments, it’s important to be aware of how your body is acclimating, and any severe changes should be noted immediately. Prevention is key when it comes to heat stroke. Here are some things you can do to help reduce your risk of heat stroke:

  • Allow your body to acclimate to hot environments. When starting a new job that works in a hot environment, it can take two weeks before an individual’s body is used to working in such conditions.

  • Take plenty of breaks in a shaded or cool area. Allow your body to take a rest from the heat.

  • Stay properly hydrated by drinking plenty of water before you are thirsty. Staying on top of hydration is extremely important, and often when you’re to the point of extreme thirst, you may be bordering on dehydration. Drinking plenty of water and other electrolyte liquids can be a great way to stay on top of preventing heat stroke and other illnesses.

  • Be aware of your coworkers and monitor each other for signs of heat illness.

  • Pace yourself, and don’t push yourself too hard when it’s extremely hot in the work environment. If exertion makes your heart pound and gasp for air, stop immediately and rest until symptoms resolve.

Signs of Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is a serious medical condition that occurs when heat exposure exceeds the physiological capacity of the body to cool itself. It results in an increase of the core body temperature, as well as other noticeable symptoms. Knowing signs of heat stroke can be extremely helpful in preventing major injury or even death in yourself or coworkers.

By being aware of these common symptoms, you can often prevent additional injury when acting on the first sight of these symptoms. These are some things you may observe or experience with heat stroke:

  1. Fainting can often be the first sign of heat stroke. If someone complains of feeling faint, sit them down in a shaded or cool area, provide them with cool water to drink, and allow them to catch their breath and relax until they start to feel better.

  2. Dizziness is a common symptom of heat stroke, and often happens before or even after fainting.

  3. Lack of sweating. By sweating, your body cools itself off naturally. When someone doesn’t sweat, they often can start to overheat.

  4. Red, hot, and dry skin can be an observable symptom that coworkers can notice quickly. Keeping an eye on your fellow coworkers can be helpful in preventing heat stroke.

  5. Rapid heartbeat or breathing is often associated with heat stroke.

  6. Heat stroke victims can often exhibit symptoms of confusion and seem disoriented.

  7. Vomiting can occur with heat stroke, and should be followed by liquids to help prevent dehydration.

  8. A body temperature of 104 or higher can be observed in individuals suffering from heat stroke.

construction worker experiencing heat stroke.

Treatment of Heat Stroke

If you or are observing a coworker experiencing symptoms of heat stroke, don’t hesitate to procure treatment. The longer you wait, the more detrimental it can be to one’s health. Please follow the steps for someone who appears to be suffering from heat stroke:

  • Alert a supervisor and call 911 immediately.

  • Move the worker to a shaded or cooler area if possible.

  • Remove excess articles of clothing quickly to help bring down the body’s temperature. Too much clothing in hot temperatures hamper’s the body’s ability to sweat and cool itself down.

  • Apply cool water to the body or place the, in a tub or shower of cool water. Don’t make the water ice cold, as that can make the body go into shock. If unable to place them in water, place ice packs in the armpit and groin areas to help lower the body’s core temperature.

Knowing Signs of A Heat Stroke is Important

Heat stroke is the most severe form of heat related illness and can be life threatening. Preventing heat related illnesses before they become an issue in the workplace is very important. Knowing symptoms, signs, and treatment of heat illnesses, especially heat stroke, can be life-saving in some instances. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to call 911 to get the individual the proper medical treatment that is necessary. You may end up saving your own life, or the life of a coworker, by acting quickly and properly when dealing with heat stroke. Don’t hesitate when dealing with serious medical conditions such as heat-related illnesses.

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