Xcel Energy in a safety briefing to its employees released a tip sheet for working in an excessively hot environment. But the tip sheet is also informative for anybody who works outdoors in the summer. The below information is from Xcel Energy:
HEAT ALERT – HEAT ILLNESS CAN BE A KILLER
Working in an excessively hot environment can be difficult – even fatal. Heat creates many safety problems and illnesses, including heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. These illnesses are called hyperthermia.
Heat can also cause you to become inattentive, short-tempered, dizzy and slow, leading you to work in an unsafe manner. Add humidity and the effects are compounded.
WATCH FOR THESE WARNING SIGNS:
Heat cramps affect muscles used while working, such as those in the arms, legs and abdomen. Cramps may occur after work, while you’re resting. They signal that the body has sweated too much salt.
Heat exhaustion may bring feelings of exhaustion, nausea, dizziness, pale clammy skin, quick pulse and low blood pressure. It’s a warning that the mechanism that controls the body’s heat is seriously overtaxed. Heat stroke may follow if heat exhaustion is not treated.
Heat stroke is serious and can be fatal. The body’s heat control mechanism shuts down. Perspiration stops and the body temperature rises. The heart pounds and the skin becomes flushed and hot. It’s a medical emergency. Get treatment immediately.
TO REDUCE YOUR RISK OF HEAT ILLNESS:
• Gradually adapt to working in the heat. If the weather suddenly turns hot or you’re transferred to a hot environment, take it easy until you are acclimatized.
• Drink water often. The body loses water through perspiration, so you need to replenish it. Don’t drink alcoholic or caffeinated beverages; they cause you to lose even more water and salt.
• Take frequent rest breaks. Move to a cooler area or switch to lighter work periodically.
• Get a physician’s advice before replacing salt. Salt tablets aren’t recommended. Lightly salted food or mineral drinks may be better.
• Follow personal protective equipment requirements, but dress lightly when work tasks allow. Be sure to shade and protect your skin from the sun.
Stay alert to signs of heat illness in yourself and in your co-workers. If you see signs of heat illness, move the victim to a cool place and fan or soak him with cool water. If he or she is conscious, give the person water to drink.
If you suspect that someone is suffering from heat stroke, call for medical help immediately.
When working in a hot environment, help your body keep its cool and heed the warning signs of heat illness.