There are several ways in which heat can affect a worker. Some of the effects of heat on the body are more serious than others; thus, it is essential to know the signs and symptoms of the various heat-related disorders, starting with the most severe. Please be aware of the symptoms and stay hydrated at all times! Heat stroke is the most serious health problem for workers in hot environments, is caused by the failure of the body internal mechanism to regulate its core temperature. Sweating stops and the body can no longer rid itself of excess heat. Signs of heat stroke include:
- Mental confusion, delirium. loss of consciousness, convulsions or coma
- A body temperature of 106 degree Farenheight or higher
- Hot dry skin which may be red, blotted or bluish
- Throwing up, Dizziness & Stomach Cramps.
Victims of Heat Stoke will die unless treated promptly. While medical help should be called, the victim must be removed immediately to a cool area and his or her clothing soaked with a cool water. He or she should be fanned vigorously to increase cooling. Prompt first aid can prevent permanent injury to the brain and other vital organs.
Heat exhaustion develops as a result of loss of fluid through sweating when a worker has failed to drink enough fluids. The worker with heat exhaustion still sweats, but experiences extreme weakness or fatigue, giddiness, nausea, or headache. The skin is clammy and moist, the complexion pale or flushed, and the body temperature normal or slightly higher. Treatment is usually simple: the victim should rest in a cool place and drink plenty of an electrolyte drink or water.
Heat cramps frequently occur in the extremities. They abruptly appear as a sudden charlie horse and limit movement of the involved arm or leg. Heat cramps may be painful, but spontaneously resolve over time. Heat cramps are caused by salt losses with sweating and are treated with electrolyte-balanced fluids, such as Gatorade, PowerAde and other electrolyte drinks.
Heat syncope occurs when a worker suddenly faints after standing for a long period. This fainting results from blood pooling in the legs, causing less blood to be delivered to the brain. Heat syncope may be treated by lying down or prevented by moving around while working.
Heat rash, also known as prickly heat, may occur in hot and humid environments where sweat is not easily removed from the surface of the skin by evaporation. When extensive or complicated by infection, heat rash can be so uncomfortable that it inhibits sleep and impedes a workers performance or even results in temporary total disability. It can be prevented by resting in a cool place and allowing the skin to dry.