Guest Author: Shirley De Leon
Heat stress is not just an occupational health issue! Whether you work in construction or take walks in the middle of the day, you may be at high risk of developing this serious condition. In fact, long exposure to extreme heat in any environment increases your risk of heat stress. Understand what heat stress is, the symptoms, and what should be done!
What is heat stress?
Heat stress is an illness that inhibits the body from cooling itself down properly. The body usually cools itself down through sweat. In some cases, however, it is unable to manage internal temperatures through sweat and in turn, experiences overheating that can damage vital organs such as the brain.
Several types of heat stress
Heat rash (mild), heat cramps, heat exhaustion (most common), and heat stroke (most severe) cause more serious health effects than others, depending on the length of exposure, degree of heat, and the humidity level in the environment. The longer you’re exposed, the hotter and the more humid the environment is, the greater the risk.
What are warning signs of heat exhaustion?
Since heat exhaustion is the most common heat-related disorder, it’s important to know its warning signs:
- Heavy sweating
- Extreme weakness or fatigue
- Dizziness, confusion
- Clammy, moist skin
- Pale or flushed complexion
- Muscle cramps
- Slightly elevated body temperature
- Fast and shallow breathing
What should be done to treat someone suffering from heat exhaustion?
If someone is experiencing heat exhaustion, make sure he/she rests in a cool, shaded or air conditioned area; drinks plenty of water or other cool, nonalcoholic beverages; and takes a cool shower, bath, or sponge bath.
What are other risk factors of heat stress?
Those with a higher risk of developing a heat-related illness include infants and children up to age 4, adults age 65 and older, people who are overweight or obese, and people who are ill and are taking certain medications.
How can you prevent heat stress?
Stay in an air conditioned area during the hottest hours of the day, wear light or loose fitting clothing and a wide brim hat if you’re out in the sun, stay hydrated throughout the day, and avoid unnecessary sun exposure and tasks that require you to be outside or in an area with no air conditioning.
For more information, pelase visit: https://ufhealth.org/heat-emergencies
Extreme Heat. (2014, July 1). Retrieved June 21, 2015, from http://ephtracking.cdc.gov/showClimateChangeExtremeHeat.action
HEAT STRESS. (2014, June 24). Retrieved June 21, 2015, from http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/heatstress/