Summer & HOT weather has officially
arrived in the Kittitas Valley.
In hot weather, the body can easily overheat, a condition called hyperthermia. Hyperthermia sets the stage for heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. We'll focus on those “big three” heat-related problems. Remember to monitor your physical condition and that of your coworkers. Dangers of overheated bodies go from minor to extreme, and it can happen quickly.
Take precautions to help ward off the following heat-related conditions, the following are listed in order of increasing severity:
Beginning warning sign: HEAT CRAMPS
When this muscle spasm grabs you, you're apt to start complaining. It may crop up suddenly during or after intense exertion or exercise, or just while working outside in the heat and it is often in the legs. It's temporarily disabling, causing affected muscles to painfully ball up. The usual culprit is excessive sweating that has pulled too much sodium out of the body.
The evaporation of sweat helps cool the body. Drinking fluids to replace water lost through sweating helps the body keep the cooling cycle humming. During prolonged, hot-weather exposure, a commercial sports beverage such as Gatorade is appropriate, as it provides water and sodium (an important blood electrolyte), both lost through sweating. Drink water frequently. Drink enough water that you never become thirsty. (Avoid alcohol, & drinks with large amounts of caffeine or sugar).
The next level: HEAT EXHAUSTION
Be aware that protective clothing or personal protective equipment may increase the risk of heat exhaustion. During heat exhaustion the skin becomes cool and sweaty, and pupils are dilated (widened). Often times people will reach this stage and not be aware due to the extreme effects on their body. Body temperature may be normal and blood pressure low. Other symptoms include weakness, dizziness, nausea, headache and faintness.
If you notice this move the person to a cool place and put in a head-low position and monitor them closely. If able, the individual should drink a sodium-containing beverage as mentioned above. Untended heat exhaustion can rapidly progress to heat stroke.
Most severe: HEAT STROKE
Heat stroke, also known as sun stroke, is a life-threatening emergency. The core body temperature soars, and sweating is absent, leaving the skin hot, dry, and red. Other symptoms include headache, numbness, tingling, confusion, fast pulse, rapid breathing and possible delirium or loss of consciousness. Quick cooling is required. After calling 911, spray or sponge the person's body with cool water and fan it to enhance cooling. If available, apply ice packs to the neck, armpits and groin.
Of utmost importance: Please do not leave kids (or pets) in a parked car or truck, even “for just a few minutes with the windows down” The summer heat is a smothering bear hug that can quickly turn the inside of a car or the back of a truck into a coffin.
Find more heat related safety tips at www.cdc.gov