Whew! Summer temperatures are here. Just walking from the house to the car is grueling. If your job involves work in that grueling environment for eight to 12 hours, every day it can become dangerous enough to kill you.
Outdoor workers and players should be aware and conscious of the people who work or play with them and watch for signs of distress or illness. Encourage those who work for or with you to sit in the shade and drink cool water as needed. False bravado or the desire to impress the boss, have no place in these temperatures and should be discouraged.
If you don’t have to work outdoors yet choose to exercise or do some of your own yard work be sure to stay hydrated and try to work or play during the early morning or late afternoon hours when it is a little cooler.
Following are excerpts from the Workmen’s Compensation Workplace Safety publications. Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of heat stress and heat stroke so you can take appropriate action immediately if you suspect either in yourself or someone you are with. It could save a life. Please share these with anyone you think would benefit from this knowledge.
Too much exposure to heat can cause a variety of problems and illnesses. Heat cramps are painful muscle spasms can occur when doing hard physical labor in a hot environment. Fainting can happen when standing in one position for an extended period of time in the heat. Moving around, rather than standing still can help prevent this. Heat rash occurs when sweat does not evaporate from the skin. Sweat ducts become clogged, resulting in a rash. Heat rash could result in an infection. Take frequent breaks in a cool place during the day and bath and dry the skin as often as possible to help prevent heat rash.
Heat exhaustion is more serious and is caused by the loss of large amounts of fluid by sweating. This can include loss of salt as well. Signs and symptoms include headache, dizziness, weakness, mood changes (confused or irritable), feeling sick to stomach, vomiting, decreased or dark colored urine, light headed or fainting, pale clammy skin. Treat victims of heat exhaustion by moving the person to a cool, shady area, provide cool water to drink, cool the person by fanning them, cool the skin with a wet cloth, lay the victim on their back and raise legs 6 to 8 inches if they are dizzy, lay the victim on their side if nausea occurs, loosen and remove heavy clothing and stay with the victim.
Call for emergency help if they do not feel better in a few minutes. If heat exhaustion is not treated, it may advance to heat stroke. Heat stroke is the most serious heat related illness.
People are at increased risk for heat related illnesses when they are dehydrated, fatigued, have infrequent exposure to hot temperatures and high humidity, are over the age of 40, are in poor physical condition or overweight, use certain medications (antihistamines, diuretics and some tranquilizers), have had prior heat
related illnesses, use drugs or alcohol within the past 24 hours, have heat rash or sunburn or wear restrictive clothing or too much clothing.
People and employers can protect themselves and employees by following these recommendations. Train all employees on the signs and symptoms of heat related illnesses and how to respond.Be aware and alert to those around you. If your partner is normally friendly and suddenly becomes angry and verbally aggressive it could be the first sign of heat exhaustion. Point this out and make them take a break. It is really a dangerous work and play environment in Florida during the summer months.
Eileen Ward and her husband Peter have owned and operated Greensward of Marco, Inc., a lawn maintenance and landscaping company since 1981. Watch Eileen’s gardening videos on MarcoIsland-TV.com. Eileen is an FNGLA Certified Horticultural Professional, has a Commercial Pesticide license in Natural Areas Management and is a registered Dealer in Agricultural products in Florida.