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Heat-Related Illnesses and How They Can Affect Your Workers

As we mentioned in our Beat the Extreme Heat blog, per the National Weather Service, approximately 175 Americans die every year from extreme heat. Heat is the number one weather-related killer, and if proper measures aren’t taken, the chance of heat-related illnesses increases.

Heat-related illnesses include:

  • Sunburn
  • Heat rash
  • Heat cramps
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Heat stroke

Sunburn and heat rash are two of the mildest heat-related illnesses. Sunburn includes painful, red skin and can be paired blisters. Heat rash is a red cluster of small blisters that appear to be pimples. For both illnesses, keep the worker out of the sun until they heal. Sunburns need to be moisturized and heat rashes need to be kept dry.

Heat cramps are another mild heat-related syndrome that include heavy sweating and muscle pain. When workers experience heat cramps, physical activity needs to be stopped and they need to move to a cool place. Workers should wait until the cramps go away before returning to physical activity. If cramps last longer than an hour, seek medical attention.

Per the Mayo Clinic, heat exhaustion is a condition caused by exposure to high temperatures when combined with high humidity and strenuous physical activity. Symptoms may include: heavy sweating, cold, pale, and clammy skin, a fast and weak pulse, nausea or vomiting, muscle cramps, and fainting. If heat exhaustion occurs, the worker needs to be cooled with cool cloths and hydrated with water. Medical help needs to be sought if the worker is vomiting or if symptoms last longer than an hour and worsen.

The most severe heat-related illness is heat stroke. Heat stroke occurs when your body temperature reaches more than 103⁰F, usually because of working in high temperatures. A few other symptoms include: hot skin, strong pulse, headache, dizziness, nausea, and confusion.  If you witness a worker with any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately.

To learn a few startling statistics surrounding extreme heat conditions, and how to be prepared for these conditions, download our infographic here.


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