You can treat heat stress, but preventing it is even better. Here are the steps you need to know to do both.
Heat problems kill thousands yearly, including those working in the heat.
Heat problems come in three varieties: heat cramps, heat exhaustion (also called heat prostration or collapse,) and the real killer, heatstroke. Collectively, these conditions are known as heat stress.
Here are five ways to prevent heat illness:
1. Pre-hydrate: Before activity starts, have workers drink up to 16 ounces of fluid. Then drink 8 ounces every 20 minutes during the activity.
2. Drink flavored water: Plain water quenches thirst too quickly, so workers tend to not drink enough of it.
3. Acclimate to the heat slowly, over 5 to 7 days of exposure: For new workers, institute a 20 percent increase of time in the heat for each day. Workers already used to these conditions can increase exposure slightly faster, but 4 days out of the heat means re-acclimation will be needed.
4. Don’t wear a hat: It restricts heat loss through the head. Workers operating in direct sunlight can wear a visor.
5. Wear loose, thin synthetic fabrics: They help the skin stay cool through evaporation. Avoid cotton as it soaks up sweat, forestalling evaporation.