The human body is normally able to regulate its temperature through sweating, until it is exposed to more heat than it can handle. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can escalate rapidly, leading to delirium, organ damage and even death. In 2019, 884 people died and 2,061 were injured in the U.S. from exposure to excessive heat, according to Injury Facts.
People most at risk include:
If your job requires you to work outside in hot weather, take precautions to minimize the risk of heat-related illnesses. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends:
Knowing the symptoms and proper response to the following illnesses can save a life.
When the body loses excessive water and salt, usually due to sweating, heat exhaustion can occur. According to the free NSC First Aid Quick Reference app, signs and symptoms include:
Uncontrolled heat exhaustion can evolve into heat stroke, so make sure to treat victims quickly:
Seek medical help immediately if someone is suffering from heat stroke. Signs include:
Immediately take action:
The best way to avoid heat-related illness is to limit exposure outdoors during hot days. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Keep Each Other Safe
Check on neighbors who are elderly, house-bound or otherwise may be reluctant to ask for help. Invite them to your air-conditioned home on hot days, drive them to a local cooling center, call relatives or contact city services to arrange for assistance.
Injury Facts – injuryfacts.nsc.orgNational Safety Council – nsc.orgNational Institute for Occupational Safety and Health – cdc.gov/nioshCenters for Disease Control and Prevention – cdc.gov
Contact Senior Risk Analyst Tim Billingham if you have job-related safety questions.