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News Release

High temperatures a health hazard for outdoor workers

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Department: Health & Environment
Release Date: Jul 22, 2014

Contact Information:

Jane Viste
970-498-6750
jviste@larimer.org

This week the temperatures in Northern Colorado will hit the highest of the summer so far.  Though potentially dangerous for anyone, excessively hot summer weather can present a hazard for outdoor workers.

            The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) reports that people who work outdoors are more likely to become dehydrated and are more likely to get heat-related illness, and recommends the following preventive measures:

  • Drink two to four cups of water every hour while engaged in moderate activity on a hot day.  Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink. (However do not consume more than 48 cups in a 24-hr. period; too much water can be dangerous as well.)
  • Wear and reapply sunscreen as indicated on the package.
  • Ask if tasks can be scheduled earlier or later in the day to avoid midday heat.
  • Wear a brimmed hat if possible and loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Spend time in air-conditioned buildings during breaks and after work.
  • Encourage co-workers to take breaks to cool off and drink water.
  • Stop all activity and get to a cool environment if you feel faint or weak.
  • Seek medical care immediately if symptoms of heat-related illness occur.

             Heat stress places workers at risk for illness such as heat stroke, heat exhaustion, or heat cramps.  Heat stroke is the most serious condition, and occurs when the body’s temperature regulation fails and body temperature rises to critical levels.  Symptoms can include confusion; irrational behavior; loss of consciousness; convulsions; a lack of sweating (usually); hot, dry skin; and an abnormally high body temperature.  Immediate emergency medical attention is required to treat heat stroke.

            Heat exhaustion signs and symptoms include heavy sweating, weakness, headache, nausea, and vertigo.  Those suffering heat exhaustion should rest in a cool shaded area, drink sips of water, and apply cool wet cloths.

            Heat cramps can include muscle cramps, pain or spasms in the abdomen, arms or legs.  Treatment includes resting in a cool shaded area, drink sips of water or sports beverage, and gentle massage to relieve muscle spasms.

            The National Institute on Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has published a Fast Facts pamphlet that lists symptom and first aid response for various heat-stress factors at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/docs/2010-114/.

 

Other Resources

Warning signs of heat related illness http://www.cdc.gov/extremeheat/warning.html

 

CDC’s website on Heat Stress for workers  http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/heatstress/

 

Background Image: Rocky Mountain National Park by Sue Burke. All rights reserved.