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Preventing heat exhaustion for outdoor workers

Summertime is a busy time of year if you work in construction, landscaping or other outdoor professions. While it's great making money while enjoying the warm weather, it's important to protect yourself from heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion.

 

Recognizing the signs

You should know the signs of heat exhaustion so you can help yourself or someone else in need. Heat exhaustion may initially appear as thirst, irritability or nausea. Headache, weakness and heavy sweating are more advanced signs of heat exhaustion.

If left untreated, heat exhaustion can advance to more dangerous conditions like heat stroke.

Treating heat exhaustion

The CDC recommends that you visit the emergency room for treatment. Make sure you move the afflicted person to a cool and shaded area until help arrives. You should remove excess clothing like socks, shoes and hats that may trap heat and prevent cooling.

You should drink liquids like water rather than sugary or alcoholic drinks to help rehydrate. It's advised that you slowly sip water instead of drinking quickly. If you can, create a cold compress by wetting a cloth and applying it to your head, face and neck. Hopefully, this will help lower your body temperature to a safer level.

It's not only about the temperature

While it's wise to check the temperature in the morning before you head outside, you should also pay attention to the heat index. The heat index factors the temperature with the humidity for a more accurate measure of outside conditions. For instance, 60 percent humidity makes a 90-degree day feel like a 100-degree day. Working fully exposed in the sunshine can add another 15 degrees to the heat index.

Working outdoors in the summer is a great way to remain active and get a nice tan while earning a living. However, you must remember to take the necessary precautions against heat-related illnesses like heat exhaustion.

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