Warm Weather Safety
Heat related illness is a serious medical condition which results when the body is unable to cool itself sufficiently through sweating. Both personal and environmental factors can contribute to the likelihood of developing heat related illness which includes heat rash, heat cramps, heat syncope (fainting), heat exhaustion, and ultimately, heat stroke:
Factors that increase the risk of heat related illness:
- Above average temperatures and high humidity
- Direct exposure to the sun or other heat sources
- Limited air movement
- Age (especially individuals older than 65 and children younger than two years old)
- Obesity and poor physical fitness
- Lack of acclimatization
- Consumption of alcohol, drugs and caffeine
- Use of medications that affect tolerance to heat
- Increased exertion and duration of physical activities
- Dark non-breathable clothing, and/or personal protective equipment (PPE) worn by employees
Heat illness prevention measures to consider include the following:
- Monitor weather conditions, and schedule outdoor work and other activities for cooler periods.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids (water and electrolyte beverages).
- Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink, and avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
- Seek shade, and wear loose-fitting, breathable, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
- Take breaks often and limit outdoor activity, especially midday when the sun is hottest.
- Wear and reapply sunscreen as indicated on the package.
- Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone, or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
- Check on animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Make sure they have plenty of cool water.
- Never leave children or pets in your vehicle. During the summer, the inside temperature of a car can quickly rise to 120oF (49oC) or more.
Departments that have employees who work outdoors, or in indoor areas where heat related illness is likely to occur (kitchens, boiler room, etc.), are required to take certain measures to reduce the risk of heat related illness.