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Supervisor talk: heat exhaustion and heat stroke

When working outdoors in hot weather, workers who do not take precautions can suffer from heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Heat exhaustion is caused by prolonged exposure to high temperatures and inadequate fluid replacement. Heat stroke is the most severe of heat-related problems. It is potentially life threatening because the body's normal mechanisms for dealing with heat stress, such as sweating and other temperature controls, are lost. The following are the symptoms of these diseases and the steps needed to help the victim.

Heat exhaustion

Symptoms:

The first signs of heat exhaustion are dizziness, weakness, headache, blurred vision, nausea, and staggering. The face becomes pale, there is profuse sweating, weak pulse, and respiration is low. The victim can become unconscious.

Treatment:

When someone shows symptoms of heat exhaustion, immediately transfer that person out of the sun to a darker location or air conditioning. Have the person lie down and keep calm. If victim is conscious, have him drink cool drinks of water or a sports drink (which will replace lost salts) and have the victim drink frequent, small sips. Do not give any beverages containing alcohol or caffeine. Monitor the victim closely. Heat exhaustion can quickly become heatstroke. If symptoms persist and heat exhaustion occurs, call the doctor.

How to avoid:

Keep fit and take frequent breaks. Stop to rest when you start feeling weak. Increase dietary salt and fluids when working in extremely hot weather. Avoid beverages containing alcohol or caffeine. Use hats and wear light colored clothing.

Heat stroke

Symptoms:

The victim develops a severe headache, face is red, the skin is hot and dry, no sweating, and the pulse is strong and very fast. The person has a high fever (105° -106° F) and may become unconscious. Following the fever, there may be confusion, convulsions, coma and even death.

Treatment:

Call 911 immediately, getting the victim professional medical treatment as soon as possible. Meanwhile, place the individual in a room with air conditioning or move to shade. Loosen clothing and cool the victim with the best means available. Follow emergency services directions.

This Supervisor Talk is also available in Spanish! Log in to the Risk Control Customer Portal and search “heat stroke” in the Keyword Search function.

For more information about helping to prevent heat exhaustion and heat stroke, visit the Heat prevention tips page on the Travelers Prepare and Prevent website.

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Helping Avoid Heat Stress for Oil and Gas Workers

Join us May 28 for our webinar: Helping Avoid Heat Stress for Oil and Gas workers. Log in to the Risk Control Customer Portal and click on the Webinar schedule under the Education Center to learn more.