Staying Safe in the Heat

In some states, summer weather can be a little uncomfortable. In Texas, it can be downright dangerous.

Scorching temperatures and suffocating humidity make our summers exceptionally brutal. If you have employees who work outside, share this article with them. By learning the basics and taking a few simple precautions, they can steer clear of heat-related illnesses this summer.

Get help. Call 9-1-1 immediately if you think you or a co-worker need medical attention for a heat-related illness.

Take it slowly. Condition yourself for working in hot environments. Start slowly, and build up to more physical work. Allow your body a few days to adjust.

Drink up. Drink plenty of liquid before and during heat exposure. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty. By then, you’re probably on your way to being dehydrated.

Cool water, fruit juice and sports beverages are good choices. Never drink alcohol, and avoid drinks with large amounts of sugar, as well as caffeinated drinks, such as coffee and soda. They cause the body to lose fluids. Also, avoid very cold drinks. They can cause stomach cramps.

If you are on a salt-restricted diet or taking water pills, ask your doctor how much and what type of fluid you should drink.

Be careful with salt tablets. Do not take salt tablets unless your doctor tells you to. Most people get more than enough salt in their diet.

Dress the part. Wear wide-brimmed hats and lightweight, light-colored, loosefitting clothes made of cotton. They help reflect heat and allow air to move over your body.

Take five. Take a break if you get a headache or you start feeling overheated, light-headed or dizzy. Cool off before you go back to work.

Eat right. Eat small, frequent meals. Large, heavy meals are more difficult to digest. They cause your body to increase internal heat to aid digestion. Avoid highprotein foods, such as meats and nuts, which increase metabolic heat.

Sleep tight. Fatigue can compound the effects of exposure to heat, so get enough sleep.

Common heat-related illnesses There are three common types of heatrelated illnesses: heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Symptoms range from painful muscle spasms to loss of coordination to death.

Visit the Red Cross to learn how to recognize and treat these illnesses.

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