Heat stress and stroke are one of the most common workplace injuries in warmer climates. In 2015, exposure to environmental heat led to 37 work-related deaths and 2,830 nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses involving days away from work. 33 of the 37 fatalities caused by exposure to heat occurred in the summer months of June through September.
What are the signs and symptoms of heat stress?
The risk of heat stress and stroke dramatically increases when the heat index climbs to 90 degrees or more, but understanding the signs and symptoms can limit the risks and effects.
Common signs of heat stress and stroke:
- A throbbing headache
- Dizziness, light-headedness, or fainting
- Lack of sweating, despite the heat
- Red, hot, and dry skin
- Muscle weakness or cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rapid heartbeat or breathing
- Behavioral changes such as confusion, disorientation, or staggering
Heatstroke is an emergency situation in which the body loses its ability to cool itself.
What to do for heat stress or stroke
If you or someone else starts to experience symptoms of heat stress or stroke, call 911. While waiting for EMS to arrive, follow these steps:
- Get to a shaded area immediately
- Loosen clothing or remove as much clothing as possible
- Cool the victim rapidly using whatever method possible. This may include putting them in a tub of cool water or cold shower; spraying them down with cool water from a garden hose, sponging them with cool water, or if the humidity is low; wrapping them in a cool, wet sheet and fanning him or her vigorously
- Put ice packs or cold compresses under their arms, on their groin area, and behind their neck
If someone is experiencing a heat stroke, sometimes their muscles will begin to twitch uncontrollably. If this happens, keep the victim from injuring themselves, but do not give them any fluids. If there is vomiting, make sure the airway remains open by turning the victim on his or her side.
Heat-related symptoms and illnesses are nothing to take lightly. In addition to knowing the signs and symptoms of heat stress, OSHA recommends being prepared with solutions such as finding shade, staying hydrated, taking periodic breaks, wearing light-colored clothes, and using personal cooling apparel.
Use the above information to help keep each other safe.
HexArmor® can help
High temperatures on worksites can make choosing PPE a difficult task. Warm weather PPE needs to not only possess all the safety benefits of normal industrial gear but also the necessary breathability and comfort.
Here are a couple of HexArmor solutions that can help keep you cooler when the temperature rises:
- ColdRush® - Features patented cooling technology fabric, which absorbs moisture and allows it to slowly evaporate, producing a cooling effect on the skin, making you feel cooler and more comfortable.
- Warm weather gloves - Each glove is created with advanced breathable material, including our innovative HexVent® technology, that allows for a comfortable heat-release system.
- Vented helmets - Select Ceros® safety helmets come with the adjustable HexVent® airflow system that includes three vents for maximum ventilation.