Prevent Heat Related Emergencies!

This is an incredibly hot time of year – in many areas 2023 is considered the hottest year in history.  Almost every organization has employees working in the heat, such as cleaning or working on the outside grounds, performing work on the roof, or working in facilities without air conditioning, for example.

Recently a police officer was rendered first aid by a citizen who noticed an issue. My level of concern is heightened, whether it’s a result of all the news about the weather, hearing from companies that don’t have a heat related policy after a heat related incident occurred, or not feeling well myself after heading out later in the morning than usual for a long run. 

The bottom line is that all employees should be educated on signs and symptoms of heat distress and prevention tips as part of your safety and wellness programs. Companies must also identify and take steps to address risk factors.

What is a heat related emergency?  Heat stroke is a medical emergency resulting when a person’s body can’t cool down. Usually the skin is hot and dry, and the body no longer perspires to cool off; however, heat stroke can also cause profuse sweating. Just because an individual is still sweating, those nearby or responding must pay attention to symptoms!  

Quick response is needed since this is a dire medical emergency that can result in multiple organ failure. Symptoms can include, 

  • confusion
  • fainting 
  • seizures and/or 
  • very high body temperature

Immediately call 911. The person should be removed from the hot environment and cooling measures taken such as ice water immersion or ice packs to cheeks, neck, arm pits, and groin until emergency medical responders arrive. 

▪ A minor heat-induced illness can look like heat cramps, heat edema (swelling) or heat rash, as well as fainting or tachycardia (elevated heart rate over 100 beats per minute). 

▪ Heat exhaustion is a moderate heat-induced illness with symptoms including nausea, fatigue and possibly fainting. Symptoms often feel like the flu, with nausea often the first symptom.

Both a minor heat induced illness and heat exhaustion can quickly become more serious. It’s important that safety and wellness professionals educate employees on the signs and symptoms of heat related illness and how to respond. There is misinformation and often the seriousness of the situation is ignored. Below is a summary of Heat-Related Illnesses:

Here are a few quick tips for the workplace:

  • Remind employees to stay hydrated, drinking more water at this time of year.  
  • Provide ice and plenty of water when outside work and other activities are performed.
  • Educate employees on recognizing the above symptoms and what to do.
  • Train employees in first aid, CPR, and taking vital signs.
  • Identify and address work environments conducive to heat related incidents. Simple solutions often provide relief.

Please contact us to schedule First Aid and CPR classes or to discuss first aid topic review sessions on specific medical emergencies including heat stress.  Also, here is a poster you can download, print and post. The CDC has more tips and information for staying safe during the hot summer months.

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