HOW TO AVOID HEAT RELATED ILLNESSES

If someone is going to work in the heat acclimatization will help them adjust to the conditions as long as they do not have medical conditions that can prevent them from making the adjustment. Some medications may make people more susceptible to heat related illnesses like diuretics and certain antibiotics. Acclimatization means building up the hours of working in temperatures above 90 degrees slowly. An example would be to have them alternate work 2 hours in the heat then change for 2 hours to a cooler environment. Over a week or so gradually increase the time working in the heat until they are at a full 8 hours. It would allow their body to adjust.

Diet is important also. The experts suggest a low protein diet and lots of fluids. Proteins require extra work by the body to break down and result in greater heat production by the body.

Based on the heat index information below working for prolonged period with a heat index (remember you have to use the chart to figure this out as it is not just the ambient temperature) above 105 is not suggested unless the individuals are able to take frequent breaks to cool down. Those individuals with heart conditions or other medical problems that affect their ability to retain fluids are at higher risk and work in this type of condition would not be recommended.

HEAT RELATED ILLNESSES AND THEIR SYMPTOMS

SUNBURN - Redness and pain in the skin. In severe cases there is also swelling, blisters, fever, and headaches. To avoid wear sunscreen, limit time in the part of the day where the sun is the highest in the sky, and consider wearing a hat with a brim and long sleeve cotton shirt. Repeated sunburns are a risk for skin cancers. We know that sunburns in the early years of your life are even more prone to cause skin cancers.
HEAT CRAMPS - Heavy sweating and painful spasms usually in the leg or abdomen muscles. Some people begin drinking nothing but Gatorade or other electrolyte drinks when the temperatures get to hot. They are more susceptible to heat cramps. The way to avoid this is to alternate 8oz of water with 8oz of Gatorade (electrolyte fluids) every hour. It also helps to eat light meals with some protein and fruit or vegetables (source of potassium). In addition follow the recommendations below for the heat index related limitations for people working in the heat. Avoid drinking really cold drinks as they can cause stomach cramps. Even a short time spent in air conditioning can help avoid heat related illnesses. Wetting down your skin can help cool your core temperatures. You can take a cool shower, wet the skin and use a fan to help cool your core temperature.

HEAT EXHAUSTION - The person becomes weak and is sweating heavily. The skin is cold, pale and clammy. The pulse becomes thread, fainting and vomiting accompanies heat exhaustion. The way to avoid this is to alternate 8oz of water with 8oz of Gatorade (electrolyte fluids) every hour. It also helps to eat light meals with some protein and fruit or vegetables (source of potassium). In addition follow the recommendations below for the heat index related limitations for people working in the heat.

HEAT EXHAUSTION, SALT DEPRIVED-This is becoming very common. More and more people have got the hint that they need to drink water and not sodas. When it is hot they’ve been told to drink more. So they drink lots of water-8-10 20oz bottles in a day have been reported. Then they start to feel nauseated and even vomit. They are sweating profusely and are losing sodium and especially potassium. They further dilute themselves by drinking water. The person can become confused. They need electrolyte replacement immediately. This can be done by mouth, if they are conscious and able to keep down fluids. The way to avoid this is to alternate 8oz of water with 8oz of Gatorade (electrolyte fluids) every hour. It also helps to eat light meals with some protein and fruit or vegetables (source of potassium). In addition follow the recommendations below for the heat index related limitations for people working in the heat.

HEATSTROKE/SUNSTROKE - High body temperature (106 degrees or higher) along with hot dry skin (worry when the person quits sweating as their temperature is rising) and a rapid and strong pulse. Unconsciousness is possible. This is very dangerous and needs immediate transportation to a medical facility preferably by ambulance. The way to avoid this is to alternate 8oz of water with 8oz of Gatorade (electrolyte fluids) every hour. It also helps to eat light meals with some protein and fruit vegetables (source of potassium). In addition follow the recommendations below for the heat index related limitations for people working in the heat.

HEAT INDEX VALUES AND THEIR EFFECTS...ESPECIALLY FOR PEOPLE AT HIGHER RISK-

Heart, liver and kidneys disease. Small children and older adults as well as those who have had prior heat related illnesses are more prone to reoccurences.80 to 90 degrees - Fatigue possible with prolonged exposure and/or physical activity.

90 to 105 degrees - Sunstroke, heat cramps, and heat exhaustion possible with prolonged exposure and or physical activity. Need breaks every hour for 5 min to get in cool environment and drink/eat small amounts. Remind them to alternate water and Gatorade(or similar)
105 to 130 degrees - Sunstroke, heat cramps or heat exhaustion likely, and heatstroke possible with prolonged exposure and/or physical activity. Consider limiting the time a person is exposed to this environment. This might default to 1-2 hours in alternating with 1-2 hour out of this environment.

130 degrees and higher - Heatstroke/sunstroke highly likely with continued exposure. Severely limit time in this environment!

PREVENTION-IN ADDITIONS TO LIMITS NOTED ABOVE:
Alternate 8oz of water with 8oz of Gatorade (electrolyte fluids) every hour. It also helps to eat light meals with some protein and fruit or vegetables (source of potassium). Avoid drinking really cold drinks as they can cause stomach cramps. Even a short time spent in air conditioning can help avoid heat related illnesses. Wetting down your skin can help cool your core temperatures. You can take a cool shower, wet the skin, apply refrigerated ice packs or moistened towels and then use a fan to help cool your core temperature.

BANDANNA COOLERS: are head bands that hold moisture for many hours. The material in Bandanna coolers allows them to hold moisture for many hours, but can then be allowed to dry out and be stored till the next season. You can apply several of them at once like to the forehead, neck and upper arms thereby increasing cooling of the core temperature.

THE HEAT INDEX

To determine the "feels like" or Heat Index temperature, find the value closest to your actual outside air temperature on the left. Follow that temperature line across until it intersects the actual relative humidity, which is displayed at the top. The temperature shown at the point where these two values intersect is the Heat Index temperature.