Summer Heat ~ Avoiding Heat Related Illness

Summer Heat

The summer heat is upon us, and record high heat, along with the humidity, can really take its toll on a person.

Annually, many people succumb to the extreme heat.  These heat-related deaths and illness can and are very preventable. 

Summer Heat

A heat-related illness occurs when our body is unable to cool itself properly.  Our bodies will normally cool itself by sweating.  However, when our body is unable to sweat, for whatever reason, our core body temperature begins to rise rapidly.  When our core temperatures become high, it begins to damage the brain and other vital organs.

Age, obesity, fever, dehydration, heart disease, prescription drugs, mental illness, alcohol use, poor circulation, contribute to whether our bodies can regulate heat.  Days that we have high humidity will hinder our bodies from the ability to properly cool.  This is due to the sweat not being able to evaporate as quickly, so our bodies are prevented from releasing the heat.

Who is at greatest risk and what actions can be taken to prevent a heat-related illness or death.  People with chronic diseases, the elderly, and the young are at higher risk.  Air-conditioning can help us make it through these “dog days” of summer.  If you are participating in physical activities, try to do so in the earlier morning.

If your home is not air-conditioned, try to find a public facility that is air conditioned, and spend some time there, especially in the hottest part of the day.

The elderly, the very young, and people with mental illness and chronic diseases are at highest risk.  However, even young and healthy individuals can succumb to heat if they participate in strenuous physical activities during hot weather.  Air-conditioning is the number one protective factor against heat-related illness and death.  If a home is not air-conditioned, people can reduce their risk for heat-related illness by spending time in public facilities that are air-conditioned.summer heat

What about work, does your job require you to be outside in the heat?  According to OSHA, Employers should establish a complete heat illness prevention program to prevent heat illness.  This includes: provide workers with water, rest and shade; gradually increase workloads and allow more frequent breaks for new workers or workers who have been away for a week or more to build a tolerance for working in the heat(acclimatization); modify work schedules as necessary; plan for emergencies and train workers about the symptoms of heat-related illnesses and their prevention; and monitor workers for signs of illness.  Workers new to the heat or those that have been away from work and are returning can be most vulnerable to heat stress and they must be acclimatized.

To prevent heat related illness and fatalities:

  • Drink water every 15 minutes, even if you are not thirsty.
  • Rest in the shade to cool down.
  • Wear a hat and light-colored clothing.
  • Learn the signs of heat illness and what to do in an emergency.
  • Keep an eye on fellow workers.
  • “Easy does it” on your first days of work in the heat.  You need to get used to it.

If workers are new to working in the heat or returning from more than a week off, and for all workers on the first day of a sudden heat wave, implement a work schedule to allow them to get used to the heat gradually.  Working in full sunlight can increase heat index values by 15 degrees Fahrenheit.  Keep this in mind and plan additional precautions for working in these conditions.

SCS Safety Health & Security Associates LLC works with businesses to help keep their employees safe, lower workers compensation and fleet / auto insurance policy premiums.  In addition, they help to get a company safety compliant by conducting job site safety inspections, developing written safety programs, and conducting safety meetings In addition, they offer OSHA 10 and 30 hr. courses, for the construction industry.  If your employees need CPR/AED, Basic First Aid, and or Bloodborne Pathogen certification, they can handle that too.  Check out their monthly CPR/AED and Basic First Aid Classes in the Leesburg VA area.

Could you provide an introduction?  We are looking to meet TMG Construction Corporation in Leesburg, Virginia, and Katchmark Construction in Chantilly, VA to enhance their safety efforts. 

What is the benefit of having SCS Safety Health & Security Associates work with your company to increase safety?  We bring over 20 years of experience in safety.  We prefer to build a relationship with our clients, so that they come to us as a resource.  Hiring SCS Safety Health & Security Associates does not require the overhead, salary, or benefits that may be required with traditional employment.