Caution needed when working in heat

9:46 AM, Jul 16, 2013   |    comments
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Staff Writer, Gannett

Finally, summer has arrived. While many folks in the Stewart and Houston County area have no doubt enjoyed the unseasonably cool temperatures and above average rain that has been the hallmark of this summer, it can't last.

As the temperatures and humidity soar, people who work in the heat need to exercise caution to avoid heat-related illness. Whether you are working for pleasure as you do yard work or work for pay on a construction site, it all comes down to the same thing: be careful.

The Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration is a good resource for learning about heat-related illnesses in varying degrees. Heat illnesses range from heat rash and heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke can result in death if the victim does not receive proper medical attention.

According to TOSHA, signs of heat related illnesses include headache, dizziness, fainting, weakness, wet skin, irritability, thirst, nausea, or vomiting. Some symptoms associated with heat stroke are confusion, the inability to think clearly, passing out, seizures, or no longer being sweaty.

The body normally cools itself through perspiration. During hot weather, especially with high humidity, perspiration is not adequate to keep the body cool. Body temperature can rise to dangerous levels if precautions are not taken.

To prevent heat illness, there are three simple things to remember: water, rest, shade. Whether you are on the job or working at home, you must stop and take time to drink. In the workplace, it is critical for employers to allow their employees to be able to drink water often as well as to allow them to rest in the shade or in a cool break room if the work is indoors.

Employers should take the initiative to educate their workers on how drinking water often, taking breaks, and limiting time in the heat can help prevent heat illness.

While prevention is best, employers and employees alike should know that if symptoms of heat stress or heat stroke appear, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.

At home or at work, that just may save your life.

(Copyright 2008 Gannett Co. Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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