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by Dr. Isabel Perry, "The Safety Doctor"

659 words

When the summer weather comes, everyone wants to be outside enjoying it, especially if they've been cooped up all winter. Summer and the heat bring some special safety considerations: sunburn, heat rash, heat cramps, heat exhaustions, heat stroke, and dehydration. No matter where you live, if it gets hot enough and/or humid enough, you could be affected. Also, everyone has a different tolerance level and some people are much more sensitive to heat and sun than others.

Illnesses caused by heat:

  • Sunburns are painful and, given enough exposure to the sun, can cause skin cancer

  • Heat rashes, or prickly heat. Bathing regularly and keeping the skin clean and dry will help prevent these.

  • Heat cramps can occur when you are perspiring heavily and not getting enough of the minerals your body needs to replace those lost in sweat. These cramps are often in the legs, arms or stomach, and sometimes don't show up until after the work is finished. Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, to avoid becoming dehydrated, and eat a balanced diet.

  • Heat exhaustion has numerous symptoms, including

    • Heavy sweating

    • Thirst

    • Clammy and pale skin

    • Fatigue

    • Weakness

    • Loss of coordination

    The person may also be:
    • Anxious

    • Confused

    • Have a headache, nausea or vomiting

    • Loss of appetite

    • Faint

Move the person immediately into a cool area, out of the sun; encourage him to drink as much water as possible to prevent dehydration. The individual should do no work, especially nothing involving moving equipment, until they recover. The individual may need medical attention.

  • Heat stroke is the body's inability to cool itself. Look for:

    • No sweating. The body appears red, hot and dry.

    • Rapid pulse

    • Complaints of:

      • Dizziness

      • Headaches

      • Nausea

      • Confusion or delirium

      • Possible fainting, seizures or collapse

      Actions to take:
      • Immediately call for medical help

      • Move the person to a cool location out of the sun

      • Immerse them in water, but not ice water

      • DO NOT give them anything to drink as they may lose consciousness



Whether at work or play, follow these steps:

  • Dress for the heat: Light colored, loose clothing will help keep you cooler. If at work make sure the clothing won't get caught in machinery. Wearing light clothing is cooler than going bare skinned.

  • Wear a hat: If you are going to be outside, wear a hat to prevent sunburn.

  • Sunscreen: To protect skin from exposure to the sun, wear sunscreen and re-apply at regular intervals.

  • Well balanced meals: Your body needs vitamins and minerals make sure that you eat enough fruits and vegetables, plus water.

  • Rest: At any time, not getting enough rest will put additional stress on the body, but this is more true during the summer.

  • Breaks: Take frequent breaks out of the sun or in a cooler area help reduce heat load on the body.

  • Organize work load: Try to organize work around cooler morning hours and shaded areas, out of the sun, as much as possible.

  • Ease into summer: It takes about two weeks to gradually get used to the heat. If you are away for a period of two weeks, you will have to help your body readjust.

  • Walks and exercise: Walking early and late will help conserve energy.

  • Carry water: If at all possible, keep plenty of water.