Heat stress is a common hazard in many areas of the world during summer months. The symptoms of heat illness can be used to indicate that heat stress has occurred. However, it is much more desirable to evaluate the risk for heat illness before any symptoms are present.
There are numerous methods commonly used to evaluate the risk for heat illness; some are very simple, including monitoring core body temperature, weight loss, and heart rate. These methods do not require sophisticated equipment but do require manpower to perform the measurements.
Additionally, some of the methods used to collect the data are not that reliable. For example, the accuracy of measuring core body temperature varies greatly depending on which instrument is used and where the reading is taken.
One interesting product that was produced by NASA to monitor core body temperatures in astronauts during training exercises is a pill that is swallowed. Core body temperature and heart rate can then be read on a meter held outside of the body near the small of the back. These devices have recently been used by sports teams during training.
Take Precautions to Avoid Heat Stress
- Gradually build up hours spent working in heat.
- Wear light, loose clothing.
- Wear a hat outdoors.
- Drink water steadily before and during working in heat.
- Avoid hot foods and drinks that contain alcohol or caffeine.
- Don’t overexert yourself; work at a steady pace.
- Take regular break in cool places.
Take Action to Respond to Heat Stress
- Heat cramps:
- Drink water
- Heat exhaustion:(weakness; dizziness; sweating; moist; pale, or flushed skin)
- Move to a cool place.
- Loosen clothes and apply compresses.
- Drink water slowly.
- Elevate feet 8-12 inches.
- Heat stroke:(lack of sweating; high body temperature; dry and hot skin; chills; strong rapid pulse; confusion)
- Treat as a medical emergency.
- Call for a doctor immediately.
- Move to cool area immediately.
- Use cool water to soak person’s clothes and body.
- Fan the body.
- Don’t give fluids if victim is unconscious.