Warmer weather means more people enjoying outdoor activities. But extreme temperatures have killed more people in recent years than other natural disasters combined.1 Between 1999 and 2009, an average of 658 heat-related deaths occurred per year.2
Turning the Heat Down – Preventing Heat Stroke and Heat Exhaustion
Whether you are working or playing in the sun, the risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke increases with the temperature.
The following tips can help you stay safe:
- Drink ample cool water throughout the day. Avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine, soda or fruit juice. 3
- Wear a hat and light-colored clothing. 4
- Try to limit exertion to cooler periods of the day.
- Take frequent breaks and rest if feeling weak.
- Be aware that some medications may make you more vulnerable to sun and heat exposure.
- If air temperature is higher than 95° F, fans will be ineffective and air conditioning should be used instead.
- Apply wet towels or headbands to help beat the heat.
- Help replace lost fluids from your body with water or sports drinks.5
Heat Injury – Know the Warning Signs
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are the most common problems when the body is exposed to excessive temperatures.6
Heat exhaustion results when you spend long periods of time exposed to high temperatures and your body gets too hot.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion can include, but are not limited to:
- Blurred vision
- Profuse sweating
- Weak pulse
- Faint breathing
The following tips can help treat heat exhaustion:
- Go to a shady location or a room with air conditioning
- Lie down and stay calm
- Take frequent small sips of cool water or a sports drink
- Call the doctor if symptoms persist as heat exhaustion can quickly become heat stroke.
Heat stroke can potentially be life threatening since it can cause you to lose the ability to sweat and control body temperature.
Symptoms of heat stroke can include, but are not limited to:
- Severe headache
- Face is red and skin is hot and dry
- No sweating
- Pulse is strong and very fast
- Vomiting and diarrhea
- If you believe a co-worker or loved one is suffering from heat stroke,call 911 immediately and follow directions given by emergency personnel. Move the person to a room with air conditioning or to the shade to help cool him or her and loosen his or her clothing.