The sun is higher and brighter and the summer heat and humidity have hit Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Over the weekend, we saw temperatures approaching 90 in Philadelphia, Bucks and Montgomery Counties.
Here is a list of the types of heat related illnesses and how to recognize and treat them. These illnesses can be very dangerous. Employers and employees must be aware of the signs and monitor themselves and their coworkers.
Heat Stroke – the most serious form of heat related illness. This happens when the body becomes unable to regulate its core temperature. Sweating stops and the body can no longer rid itself of excess heat. Signs include confusion, loss of consciousness, and seizures. Heat stroke is a medical emergency that may result in death. Call 911 immediately!
Heat exhaustion – this is the body’s response to loss of water and salt from heavy sweating. Signs include headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, irritability, thirst, and heavy sweating. Have workers sit or lie in a cool shady area. Give them plenty of water or cool beverages to drink. Take them to a clinic or ER if they do not improve in 60 minutes.
Heat cramps – these are caused by the loss of body salts and fluid during sweating. Low salt levels in muscles cause painful cramps. Tired muscles – those used for performing the work –are usually the ones affected by the cramps. Cramps may occur during or after work. Move worker to cool shady area, drink water or cool beverages. Wait a few hours before doing strenuous work. Seek medical attention if cramps don’t go away.
Heat rash – also known as prickly heat, is a skin irritation caused by sweat that does not evaporate from the skin. Heat rash is the most common problem in hot work environments. Try to work in a cooler environment whenever possible, keep the affected area dry.
To protect yourself and your employees, make sure water and cool beverages are available throughout the work day and that everyone is taking a few minutes grab a drink and stay hydrated. If in the sun, make sure to cover your head and upper body is possible to reduce the effects of the sun. If inside, use exhaust or cooling fans to keep air circulating around the building. Take rest breaks several times a day and if possible rotate workers to different jobs and/or areas.
Extreme heat can be deadly, so keep an eye on yourself and others when the temps rise!