Heat exhaustion can occur when an individual is subjected to hot environments/high temperatures and fails to consume enough fluids or salts. Heat exhaustion is a serious issue as it can possibly lead to heat stroke – a life threatening condition. Heat stroke happens when the individual’s body is unable or fails to regulate its core temperature. It is then that the human body can no longer cool itself through perspiration and is unable to rid excess heat. Employees working in hot environments must be aware of and recognize symptoms of heat stress disorder.
- Heat Cramps – Painful spasms of the muscles caused when individuals consume large quantities of water but fail to take in enough salt. Sore or tired muscles are especially susceptible.
- Heat Exhaustion – Symptoms include moist and clammy skin, pale skin, profuse sweating, extreme weakness or fatigue, dry mouth, dizziness, fast pulse, rapid breathing, muscle cramps and nausea.
- Heat/Sun Stroke – Symptoms include high body temperature (104o F or higher), lack of sweat, mental confusion, delirium, hallucinations, deep breathing, rapid pulse, hot and dry skin, red or mottled skin and dilated pupils.
If it is believed an individual is experiencing heat stroke contact emergency personnel immediately. Do not ignore possible symptoms of heat stress disorders.
- Acclimatization – Adjust yourself to the heat through short exposure periods followed by longer exposure until your body is accustomed to the heat. It may take 5-7 days of hot weather exposure before the body undergoes changes that make heat more bearable.
- Drink lots of Water/Liquids – Replenish the fluid that your body is losing. Not only water, but critical electrolytes such as sodium, potassium and calcium are lost through sweating.