Reposted from Securitas Security Services, USA, Inc.
Extreme heat can be hazardous for those who work or spend extended time outdoors. While the heat itself can be threatening, the addition of what weather forecasters refer to as the “heat index” can exacerbate conditions. The heat index is the combination of high temperatures, humidity and direct sun exposure that contributes to heat stress. Those who work or play outside on a hot day should take basic precautions to protect themselves from the heat, sun exposure and other hazards.
Excessive Heat Events
U.S. summers commonly produce heat waves—several consecutive days of excessively high temperatures in a given geographic area of the country. Because of the health hazards posed by excessive heat, the National Weather Service (NWS) developed the following heat-related alerts:
An excessive HEAT WATCH is issued when a severe heat event is likely to occur in the next 24 to 72 hours. A watch provides sufficient notice to prepare for a potential extreme heat event.
An excessive HEAT WARNING or HEAT ADVISORY means an excessive heat event is in progress, imminent or expected. Either of these is issued within 12 hours of the onset of extremely dangerous heat conditions. A warning is used for conditions posing a threat to life or property. An advisory is issued for less serious conditions that cause significant discomfort or inconvenience, which, if caution is not taken, could pose a threat to life or property.
When working outdoors in elevated temperatures, experts recommend drinking about five to eight ounces of water every 15 to 20 minutes to stay sufficiently hydrated and maintain a safe core body temperature. Studies show that after only one hour in extreme heat conditions, a person’s alertness and endurance are compromised.
After two hours, the effects of heat stress—including cramps, fatigue, decreased strength and reduced coordination—may set in. Maintain proper hydration by drinking before, during and after exercise to replace body fluids. By the time you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Water is best for hydration, but sports drinks, which contain electrolytes lost in perspiration, are an alternative.
Cool water is absorbed more quickly by the body than warm or very cold fluids. Avoid coffee, tea and alcoholic beverages, all of which act to dehydrate the body.
Protection from the Sun
Sunlight contains ultraviolet (UV) radiation that causes premature aging of the skin, wrinkles and skin cancer. The amount of damage from UV exposure depends on the strength of the light, the length of exposure and whether the skin is protected. Protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays by covering up. Wear a wide-brimmed hat and tightly-woven clothing—preferably a long-sleeved shirt and long pants. Gauge the protection offered by your clothing by trying to see your hand through the fabric. If you can, the garment offers minimal protection.
Eye protection is important too. Wear UV-absorbent shades. Some studies have shown a greater incidence of cataracts among those who do not wear sunglasses in bright sunlight.
Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30, and limit your exposure. UV rays are most intense between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and are present even on cloudy days.
A Useful App
OSHA and NIOSH have developed an app available through the App Store or on Google Play. The Heat Safety Tool can be used for planning outdoor work activities based on how hot it feels throughout the day. Learn more about the app at https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/ heatstress/heatapp.html
Recognize and Respond
Heat-related illnesses can be very serious. Be familiar with the risks and signs. If someone becomes ill from the heat, move the person to a cooler area and call for help. Do not leave the person alone.
Headache, dizziness, or fainting; lethargy and clammy skin; irritability or confusion; and thirst, nausea or vomiting are all signs of heat exhaustion. Provide assistance to keep the situation from escalating.
Confusion, passing out and seizures as well as an inability to sweat may indicate that a person has heat stroke. This is a serious condition. SEEK HELP IMMEDIATELY.
If a person is not alert or seems confused, he or she might have heat stroke. CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY. Administer first aid and apply ice as soon as possible.
Several resources are available to help you learn more about staying safe in hot weather.
For more information on this and other security related topics, visit the Securitas Safety Awareness Knowledge Center at: