Heat Illness Prevention Part 1: Heat Illnesses

As summer kicks into full gear, heat illnesses are a major concern for workers in outdoor environments. Workers in construction and agriculture, among others, must protect themselves from heat, sun exposure, and other hazards.



Heat Illnesses

Heat, combined with high humidity, can create serious health hazards. The two most serious heat illnesses are heat exhaustion and heat stroke.


Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is a serious medical condition where the body cannot regulate its own temperature. If not treated immediately, heat stroke can be fatal. Symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • Hot, dry skin

  • No sweating

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Headaches

  • High body temperature (above 103F)

  • Rapid, strong pulse

  • Loss of consciousness

If you see someone who might be experiencing a heat stroke, act immediately!

  1. Call 911

  2. Move the person to a cooler area

  3. Have the person lie down and elevate their feet above their heart

  4. Cool the person down with a water bath/shower, or applying ice packs/cool wet towels to the neck, armpits, and groin areas

  5. If available, use fans to aid in cooling

  6. If the person is capable, give them cool (not cold) water (avoid sugary and caffeinated drinks)


Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is not as severe as heat stroke but can still have serious health effects. Delayed treatment of heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

  • Excessive sweating

  • Muscle cramps

  • Cool, moist skin

  • Dizziness or fainting

  • Nausea or vomiting

  • Fast, weak pulse

If you see someone experiencing heat exhaustion, do the following:

  1. Move the person to a cooler area

  2. Remove any unnecessary layers of clothing or loosen clothing to increase air flow

  3. Cool the person down by immersing the body in water, spraying body with water, or applying cool wet towels to the body

  4. Give the person cool (not cold) water (avo