Heat Illness Prevention

Hot weather is certainly here and with it comes to the risk of heat illnesses.  The good news is that these illnesses can be prevented by simple precautions.  These precautions include: drinking plenty of fluids before, during, and after activities; limiting exposure to the sun and heat; avoiding dietary supplements that contain caffeine before exposure to heat, during heavy exercise, or for a prolonged period.  Dietary supplements that contain caffeine may cause the body to get rid of fluids increasing the risk of a heat illness.

Dehydration is the most common of heat illness.  It is caused by a loss of body fluids.  During hot weather this loss occurs from sweating.  Symptoms include thirst, headaches, and fatigue.  Prevent dehydration by replacing lost body fluids with water.  Some sports drinks are also good to use.  However, reduce or eliminate consumption of coffee, tea, or soft drinks that contain caffeine and alcohol because they may cause the body to get rid of fluid instead of retaining it. First aid is to rest in a cool place and drink water to replenish lost fluids. Always seek medical treatment.

Heat cramps is another heat illness.  These cramps affect the body’s major muscles like the abdomen, thighs, and back.  Heat cramps often occur as a result of prolonged activity on a hot day with the loss of body fluids.  Symptoms include sharp pain that is not caused by a pulled or strained muscle and persistent muscle contractions during and after activity.  First aid is to take in fluids (unless the victim is vomiting), loosen clothing, and rest in a shady area. Always seek medical treatment.

Heat exhaustion is a more severe heat illness and can occur when people continue to be active during hot weather and lose a large quantity of body fluid.  Symptoms include light-headedness, fainting, loss of coordination, heavy sweating, pale skin, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, or persistent muscle cramps. First aid is to consume fluids (unless the victim is vomiting), loosen clothing, and rest in a shady area. Always seek medical treatment.

Heat stroke is the most serious heat illness and is considered life threatening.  Symptoms include dizziness, weakness, nausea, headache, cramps, and cold and damp skin.  These symptoms signal a failure of the body’s heat-regulating system. First aid is to obtain emergency medical treatment as quickly as possible.  While waiting for emergency medical treatment give the victim water to drink (unless the victim is vomiting or unconscious), loosen clothing, and rest victim in a shady area.

Heat illnesses are very serious, and medical treatment should always be given to a victim. Don’t trust your judgment; let a doctor decide how serious the illness is.

About Fred Fanning Author

Fred Fanning currently writes biweekly on his blog fredefanningauthor.com. His published works include the peer-reviewed book Basic Safety Administration-A Handbook for the New Safety Specialist. Fred also authored two editions of the peer-reviewed chapter Safety Training and Documentation Principles that was published in the bestselling Safety Professional Handbook and the Safety Professional Handbook Management Applications. He coauthored the peer-reviewed chapter Safety Training with Christine Fiori, Ph.D., PE, published in the bestselling Construction Safety Management and Engineering, second edition edited by Darryl C. Hill, Ph.D., CSP. Fred also has several self-published books. He has a series called Fred’s Safety Shorts. This is a collection of twelve books on topics related to safety published with Kindle Direct Publishing. Fred self-published another six books using both CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform and Kindle Direct Publishing. He has authored fifty-eight articles in various publications on the topics of safety and health and project management. Fred has earned several writing awards for his non-fiction work. Fred has two novels A Walk Among the Dead and Mystery at Devil’s Elbow.
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