It appears the heat and humidity of summer have arrived in full force already this year. The week of spring we had sure was nice though.
As we look forward to the days we will spend in the sun boating, swimming and having fun, we must remember that summer and extreme heat can bring the danger of heat-related illnesses.
Heat-related illnesses can happen to anyone and there are a variety of factors beyond just the temperature that lead to illnesses like heat cramps, heat exhaustion and even heat stroke.
Factors to consider:
Air Temperature and Humidity: Air temperature is the most obvious risk. High humidity is another, because the main way the body cools itself is by sweating. Higher humidity hinders the process of cooling the body through evaporating sweat.
Heat Sources: Direct sunlight is one source to consider. Radiant heat is another source that is sometimes overlooked but can produce as much heat. The ground absorbs heat (especially asphalt). Machinery also generates heat.
Air Movement: Lack of air movement slows the process of evaporation and the cooling of the body. Air movement can bring cooler air and remove heated air.
Workload: Intense work for long stretches of time are two specific factors that can affect your risks. A heavy workload is tiring and inhibits the body’s ability to cool itself.
Clothing and Personal Protective Equipment: Long pants, sleeves, gloves or other protective clothing may be required to perform tasks. Articles of clothing worn for protection can sometimes inhibit cooling.
Personal Fitness: A person’s age, weight, fitness, life style and acclimation to condition are all factors. Medications can play a major factor as well. Caffeine and alcohol decrease hydration as well in hot environments.
Keeping these factors in mind when working in hot environments is an important step in keeping yourself and your family, friends and coworkers safe during the summer.
Additional steps you can take to stay safe during extreme heat include:
Always be on the lookout for symptoms of heat exhaustion:
The National Safety Council recommends if you or someone you know experiences these symptoms, lay the person down in a cool area with his or her legs raised. Remove excess layers of clothing. Give up to one liter of water. Do not give anything if the person vomits. Cool the person with cold, wet cloths and a fan. If symptoms persist, seek medical attention.
The IMT Loss Control Department has resources available to help our agents and insureds in their efforts to reduce exposures and injuries while promoting safety at the workplace and in the home. Please contact our office if you have an insured you think could benefit from additional information or a loss control visit.
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