Working Outside This Summer? Learn to Recognize and Treat Heat-Related Illness

Summer TemperatureLet’s cut to the chase. It’s summer in Texas, and it’s not just hot; it’s melt-the-paint-off-your-car hot. Walking from your front door to your car is not something you do lightly these days. It takes mental and physical preparation. If you make your living building skyscrapers, digging oil wells or doing other strenuous outdoor work, you should learn to recognize and treat the signs of heat-related illness.

Excess heat can place abnormal stress on your body. Hard work during high heat and humidity can cause heat cramps, heat exhaustion or heat stroke. These are your body’s warning signs that your core temperature is rising. Heat stress can happen suddenly. It can also be dangerous, resulting in organ or brain damage.

Heat cramps

Symptoms:

  • Muscle pain and spasms

Treatment:

  • Drink water
  • Alternate between strenuous and easy jobs

Heat exhaustion

Symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Giddiness
  • Clammy skin
  • Red complexion
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Fainting

Treatment:

  • Move to a cool area
  • Drink water moderately
  • Rest

Heat stroke

Symptoms

  • Hot, dry, red skin
  • Blotchy skin
  • Confusion
  • Convulsions
  • Loss of consciousness

Treatment:

  • Immerse in cool water
  • Place wet cloths on your head and under your arms
  • Seek medical attention

Tips to beat the heat:

  • Drink plenty of water. On very hot days, try to drink a glass of water every hour.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothes. Wear a shirt and a shade-producing hat if possible.
  • Take frequent breaks in the shade.
  • Remember that it takes 7-10 days for your body to get used to heat.
  • Avoid eating hot, heavy meals. Instead, eat cool, light meals.
  • Don’t drink alcohol (even the night before) or caffeinated drinks. They can cause dehydration.
  • Talk to your doctor about possible heat-related reactions from your medications.
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