Know the signs of heat-related illness
As part of the Labor Department’s heat stress initiative to prevent heat-related workplace deaths, officials urge those who work outside or in hot environments during the summer months to be cautious and know the signs of heat stress.
“North Carolina’s humid conditions coupled with 100 degree temperatures make for a dangerous combination,” Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry said.
Prior to last year, North Carolina had not experienced a heat-related fatality since 2006.
Dehydration is one of the primary causes of heat illness. When the body is unable to cool itself by sweating, several heat-induced illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and the more severe heat stroke can occur. It is recommended that workers consume 8 ounces of water every 15 to 20 minutes. Beverages containing caffeine or alcohol are not recommended for hydration purposes.
Heat cramps are usually the result of hard physical labor in a hot environment, often resulting from an imbalance of electrolytes in the body. Heat exhaustion is a result of the combination of excessive heat and dehydration. Untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke.
Heat stroke is the most serious disorder associated with heat stress and can be deadly if not treated properly.
The following information will help you identify heat-related illnesses:
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion
• Headaches, dizziness, light headedness or fainting.
• Weakness and moist skin.
• Mood changes, irritability, confusion.
• Upset stomach, vomiting.
Symptoms of Heat Stroke
• Dry, hot skin with no sweating.
• Mental confusion or losing consciousness.
• Seizures or convulsions.
What to do for heat-related Illness: Call 911 (or local emergency number) immediately.
While Waiting for Help to Arrive
• Move person to a cool, shaded area.
• Loosen or remove heavy clothing.
• Provide cool drinking water (only if victim is conscious).
• Fan and mist the person with cool water; cool the victim’s head with a wet compress.
Desirable Work Practices for Those Working Outdoors
• Availability of cool drinking water.
• Heaviest and most exhausting work scheduled for the coolest part of the day.
• Frequent short breaks.
• Pacing tasks.
Know the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses; monitor yourself and co-workers.
Avoid alcohol, caffeinated drinks and heavy meals.
Wear lightweight, light-colored and loose-fitting clothing.
Drink lots of water, about 1 cup every 15 minutes, even if you’re not thirsty.
Rest regularly in cool, shaded or air conditioned areas.
The Labor Department has many publications available on heat stress available through the “Heat Stress Info” Quick Click on its website: www.nclabor.com.