Practice Heat-Related Safety This Summer

Now that summer is here, it's time to be thinking about safety and avoiding head-related illnesses. Daily temperatures can easily climb above 90 degrees, and while you may feel terribly hot in high humidity areas, like the Midwest and Southeast, you can be fooled into thinking it's not so bad in areas with low humidity, like the Southwest. (It can still be dangerous.)

Basically, you're at risk of heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and other heat-related illnesses if the temperature and humidity is high, if you're working in the direct sunlight, if there's little to no wind, if you're doing a lot of physical exertion, or if you don't have a high tolerance for heat. Also, certain medications can cause you to be more susceptible to heat, so be sure to check with your physician if you're on any sort of medication.

pexels-photo-848140.jpegThe best way to reduce the possibility of heat-related illnesses include drinking plenty of water (8 ounces every 15 minutes); working in the shade whenever possible; taking breaks in shaded areas or even sitting in the truck and running the AC; and wearing light-colored, lightweight, loose-fitting clothing.

Also, avoid drinking alcohol, caffeinated drinks, and heavy meals. Alcohol and caffeinated drinks like tea and soda are diuretics — they make you have to urinate more than you take in, so you're more prone to dehydration. And your body has to work harder to digest heavy meals, and you may get an upset stomach.

When we talk about heat-related illnesses, you'll often hear the terms heat exhaustion and heat stroke used interchangeably, but they actually mean different things with different symptoms.

Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion

  • Headaches, dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting.
  • Weakness and moist skin (not just sweaty, but clammy).
  • Mood changes, such as irritability or confusion.
  • Upset stomach or vomiting.

Symptoms of Heat Stroke

  • Dry, hot skin with no sweating.
  • Mental confusion or losing consciousness.
  • Seizures or convulsions.

Regardless, both mean heat-related illness, and they can be prevented and treated in the same way: Get in the shade or cool area, drink plenty of cool water, and watch for serious symptoms like confusion, vomiting, or convulsions. And most importantly, if symptoms seem life threatening, call 911 immediately.

We preach safety at all times, and that includes weather-related safety. It's a good idea to have someone on your crew serve as the break-and-water monitor, reminding everyone to work in the shade when you can, drink your 8 ounces of water every 15 minutes, and to sit in the shade or a cool area during your breaks. Finally, be sure to check with your foreman to ensure you're taking the proper safety precautions and following any heat advisories based on the outside temperature.

Photo credit: Tucker (, Creative Commons 0)

Posted: 6/13/2018 1:00:00 PM by