Triple figure heat index can cause heat stress, heat stroke

July 18, 2013 at 1:09 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 18 (UPI) -- With another day of oppressive, humid, sticky heat in the Northeast and Midwest, U.S. government officials warn outdoor workers of the risk of heat stress.

Officials at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Division of Safety Research said heat stress from the high temperatures combined with high humidity can result in a heat index of 100 or more F causing heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, or heat rashes.

"Workers at risk of heat stress include outdoor workers and workers in hot environments such as firefighters, bakery workers, farmers, construction workers, miners, boiler room workers, factory workers and others," OSHA said "Workers at greater risk of heat stress include those who are age 65 or older, are overweight, have heart disease or high blood pressure, or take medications that may be affected by extreme heat."

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include:

-- Heavy sweating.

-- Extreme weakness or fatigue.

-- Dizziness, confusion.

-- Nausea.

-- Clammy, moist skin.

-- Pale or flushed complexion.

-- Muscle cramps.

-- Slightly elevated body temperature.

-- Fast and shallow breathing.

Treat a worker suffering from heat exhaustion by:

-- Having them rest in a cool, shaded or air-conditioned area.

-- Having them drink plenty of water or other cool, non-alcoholic beverages.

-- Having them take a cool shower, bath, or sponge bath.

Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related disorder. It occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body's temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. When heat stroke occurs, the body temperature can rise to 106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not given.

Symptoms of heat stroke include:

-- Hot, dry skin or profuse sweating.

-- Hallucinations.

-- Chills.

-- Throbbing headache.

-- High body temperature.

-- Confusion/dizziness.

-- Slurred speech.

If heat stroke, call 911 and notify the worker's supervisor. Move the sick worker to a cool shaded area and cool by:

-- Soaking their clothes with water.

-- Spraying, sponging, or showering them with water.

-- Fanning their body.

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