Summer is here…and so is the potential for heat stress
As the summer months bring sweltering temperatures, heat stress becomes a greater risk. Heat stress can be combatted with simple, but key steps. And with indoor temperatures sometimes climbing two to three times that of those outdoors – a brief reminder of how to spot overheating employees may be in order.
Tips to help your employees beat the heat and spot symptoms of heat stress:
- Drink plenty of fluids: Your body needs water, salt and minerals to function. Making sure that employees are drinking plenty of cool water, natural juices or drinks containing electrolytes will help them stay cool in a hot environment. Employees should avoid alcohol (obviously), pop, coffee or other caffeinated beverages, they remove fluids from the body and do more harm than good.
- Eat light: Heavy meals add heat to the body and send blood away from the skin to the digestive system. They also increase metabolic heat production and increase water loss. Eating smaller, lighter meals helps deal with the heat.
- Check medications : Caffeine and medicines for blood pressure and allergies increase the risk of heat stress. Employees dealing with hypertension or other conditions such as diabetes should be made aware that certain medications make them more susceptible to heat stress, and provided opportunity to regularly cool down and hydrate.
- Work with care: Set up fans to keep the air moving; and suggest that employees use cool rags on the back of their necks and to wear loose, light clothing.
- Know what heat stress looks like: Common symptoms of heat stress include:
- Heavy sweating
- Weakness or fatigue
- Dizziness or nausea
- Muscle cramps
- Fast or shallow breathing
If an employee is exhibiting symptoms such as a high body temperature, confusion or dizziness, slurred speech, chills or hallucinations, seek emergency care. These are symptoms of heat stroke, the most serious heat-related disorder.