July 24, 2019
By Rebecca Batisto
After a long cold winter, it’s little wonder why everyone praises the rise of the summer months — finally, a little heat! But, as with everything, there is a flip side to that coin. If you’re working in an inadequately cooled workspace, or possibly even outside, you’re opening yourself up to the possibility of heat-related injuries that could range from mild discomfort to completely debilitating.
Here are some of the heat-related symptoms that you might want to watch out for, along with some preventive measures you could take, in the summer months.
Have you ever been working in a warm environment for a few hours, only to discover that you feel excessively depleted with a headache, dizziness, physical exhaustion, and excessive thirst, not to mention feeling way, way too hot? If so, you may have been experiencing heat exhaustion.
Heat exhaustion is a common heat-related condition that occurs due to loss of electrolytes and water through excess sweating. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, it’s vital that you drink some water or a sports drink immediately (not freezing cold, as that could exacerbate your headache) and find a cool place to sit down. You should also remove any excess layers of clothing and cool down using a cold compress like a wet cloth.
Some people don’t realize that there is a difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke, but there is a big one.
Heat stroke is what happens when heat exhaustion isn’t adequately treated and your internal temperature rises to 104 degrees or hotter. When you have heat stroke, your body’s temperature control mechanisms essentially fail, leading to severe symptoms like seizures, nausea, vomiting, disorientation, loss of consciousness, or other neurological complications. If you or someone else is experiencing heat stroke, you need to call for medical assistance immediately. Merely putting a cold washcloth over someone’s forehead isn’t going to cut it here, as heat stroke can lead to permanent neurological damage. In other words, call 911.
Do you remember being a child in the summertime, running outside while your mother yelled, “Make sure you put on some sunscreen,” from the living room?
If you are spending any time working outside this summer, you are going to want to take her advice. A mild sunburn can result in redness, itchiness, and irritation, while a major sunburn could result in significant pain and a visit to the doctor. Repeated excessive sun exposure could lead to even worse conditions down the road, such as skin cancer.
The primary preventative measure you can take here is simple: listen to your mother and put on some sunscreen! No matter your skin color or texture, we recommend putting on at least SPF50. Don’t skimp either, make sure that it’s applied in a nice even layer on your skin and replaced at regular intervals. We often forget to put sunscreen in some of our most tender, delicate areas as well, so be sure that it goes on your eyelids, ears, and lips (if don’t want wish to taste your sunscreen, look for some lip moisturizer with an SPF50 rating on it).
You can also make sure that you’re covering up as best as possible to avoid the sun. If you are outdoors, always have on sunglasses and a hat. You might think that your hair will provide sun cover, but there are many a sunburn scalp that would disagree.
Have you ever been sitting working and think, “Huh, I have a headache? Oh, duh, I haven’t had a glass of water for a few hours!” It’s more common than you think.
During the wintertime, being super thirsty can lead to a lack of concentration, but when you are in a hot environment, it can lead to a much worse problem: dehydration.
It’s not actually as easy to become dehydrated as many believe, but it can be a massive problem for workers in the summer months. If you aren’t getting enough water, you might experience symptoms like headaches, dry mouth, muscle cramps, dizziness, fatigue, or extreme thirst. If your dehydration reaches the point where you feel like you may lose consciousness, you might need to be taken for medical treatment where you will be given fluids intravenously.
Thankfully, there is usually a simple solution to this problem: keep hydrated. Have a bottle of water around that you sip from regularly. You don’t need to drink so much that you feel like you’re going to burst, just drink a bottle now and then throughout the day. If you’re outside in the sun or a warm environment like a warehouse, be sure to drink more.
These are all heat-related medical conditions that can strike anyone working at any time, if they are in the right environment. It’s important to know what to do in those situations, as well as know what insurance coverage you have. If you’d like to learn more about how workers’ compensation insurance could impact you, your business, or your employees, we invite you to contact us today!