The dog days of summer are upon us, and that means that we have to take extra care at our job sites in order to make sure we keep heat-related illnesses at bay. Heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke are all things we take very seriously.
Heat cramps are muscle cramps, and most often occur in arms or legs. In hot weather we sweat more, and if we experience body fluid loss we start to cramp up. How do we treat it? We make sure we move the affected person to a cool place, and give the person cool water.
The next step up on the danger ladder is heat exhaustion. A person suffering from heat exhaustion will experience heavy sweating, weakness, a fast pulse, headache and dizziness, and even nausea and vomiting. Still, the affected person will have a normal body temperature. If you or a colleague experience these symptoms, get to a cool place, lie down (with legs slightly elevated), and apply cold packs or wet towels or garments. If the victim is conscious, give him cold water. If the victim is not conscious, or does not improve within 30 minutes, seek medical attention.
Heat stroke requires immediate first aid. With heat stroke you'll see a high body temperature, weakness, rapid pulse and breathing, dizziness and/or a headache. If you see these symptoms, move the person to a cool place and immediately use whatever you can to cool the worker – ice and water from a cooler are a good place to start. Make sure the airway is open, and call for help at once.
Preventing Heat-related Illnesses