Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The ABC’s of Heatstroke/Heat Exhaustion (Part II – Field Treatment)

Go to the LMCIT’s free video loan library to borrow these three titles for employee training:

 #261 Heat Stress
#262 Beat the Heat: Preventing & Treating…
#284 Heat Stress: Code Red 

Heat Exhaustion Treatment: Heat Exhaustion does not normally require a physician visit, however if you or a co-worker are experiencing severe symptoms or have a heart condition or high blood pressure, you should seek treatment immediately.
  • Move to a shaded area
  • Drink cool, nonalcoholic/decaffeinated beverages
  • Rest
  • If possible take a cool shower, bath, or sponge bath
  • Move to an air-conditioned environment
  • Plan to wear lightweight clothing on hot days

Heat Stroke Treatment: Heat stroke is a medical emergency.  Get medical assistance as soon as possible.
  • Get the victim to a shady area.
  • Cool the victim rapidly using whatever methods you can. For example, get the person into an air conditioned vehicle if working out in the field, immerse the victim in a tub of cool water; place the person in a cool shower; spray the victim with cool water from a garden hose; sponge the person with cool water; or if the humidity is low, wrap the victim in a cool, wet sheet and fan him or her vigorously.
  • Monitor body temperature, and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops to 101-102°F.
  • If emergency medical personnel are delayed, call the hospital emergency room for further instructions.
  • Do not give the victim fluids to drink.

There are times that a person with heat stroke will experience uncontrollable muscle twitching.  If this occurs, you need to keep the person from hurting themselves, however do NOT place any object in the person’s mouth or give them fluids.  If the person is vomiting, turn them on their side to ensure that the airway remains open.

In Minnesota, we experience a full range of temperature extremes and conditions that we need to be prepared to deal with them as they occur.  There are a number of free weather applications for your smart phone that you can download to ensure you have the current weather conditions available to keep yourself and your co-workers safe in all weather conditions.  OSHA has also created an app for smart phones to track the heat index for those hot summer days to ensure that you can be aware of when you need to take extra precautions.  The app, Heat Safety Tool, is compatible with android, iPhone, and Windows based technologies.

As we look ahead toward colder temperatures, please refer back to last year’s blog post about staying safe in the extreme cold.  

By Tara Bursey

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The ABC’s of Heatstroke (Part I – Prevention)

What is Heatstroke or Heat Exhaustion?  With the warm weather season upon us, we need to focus more on our bodies and how to stay healthy in the heat.  Heatstroke is one of the greatest risks when working outdoors in the high temperatures of summer.  Heatstroke can occur within 10 to 15 minutes of the body’s sweating mechanism failing and the body temperature rising. 
Heat exhaustion is a less intense form of heatstroke that can occur after prolonged exposure to high temperatures over a period of time.  People most prone to heat exhaustion include those that work outdoors in high temperatures. 
Signs and Symptoms of Heatstroke:
  • High body temperature (above 103 degrees orally)
  • Lack of sweating
  • Rapid, strong pulse
  • Throbbing headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Unconsciousness

Signs and Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion:
  • Heavy sweating
  • Paleness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tiredness, weakness
  • Dizziness, headaches, fainting
  • Nausea, vomiting

How do you Prevent Heatstroke and Heat Exhaustion?
  • Wear loose fitting, light weight, light colored clothing
  • Wear sunscreen to prevent sunburn with reapplication intermittently
  • Take breaks in air conditioning (either indoors or in an air conditioned vehicle)
  • Drink plenty of fluids (16-32 ounces per hour)
  • Replace salt and minerals with sports drinks
  • Schedule outdoor work early in the day to avoid prolonged exposure during the hottest periods of the day
  • Use Buddy System to monitor condition of your co-workers
  • Use cooling towels to help regulate your body temperature  cooling towels
  • cooling headbands  cooling head bands

By Tara Bursey