Monday, 18 June 2012

Heat Stress

Heat stress can accumulate over the course of a day

’ve done a fair bit of work in the past warning folks about the dangers of heat. Here are some of the points that I covered –


1.  The body needs to get rid of excess heat to keep an even keel.

2.  This it does by varying the rate of blood circulation and sending heat out in the form of sweat. 

3. If surrounding air temperature is as warm as - or warmer than - the skin, you’ll have trouble cooling off.

4. The body keeps pumping blood to just under the body’s surface… you keep sweating, but it’s still hot.  High humidity makes it harder for the heat to evaporate from the skin.

5. With all the blood detouring to the skin, there’s not enough to go around for the brain and other organs.

Hydrate every 15 - 20 minutes



This is a condition we pretty well all suffer from...
It’s hot.  You’re drowsy, not your chipper old self. You get kind of slack working the knobs and dials on the production floor of the factory.  At the office, or in school, you slow down. You make some minor mistakes. You mix up the details. In fact, the brain goes on automatic.  Your foot takes a step and your head follows… that kind of automatic.
On the production floor – or around any type of machinery - this type of heat stress may be the worst because it’s so common. Everybody accepts it as a fact of life. 

Around machinery, you begin living dangerously.  And at the office? Heat stress destroys your ability to concentrate. Just a few numbers, a basic slip up, and a customer has vanished from your files or your order has been shipped to the wrong place.

Children can easily suffer from heat stress due to their smaller skin area



People who are hit by heat cramps, sweat enough, drinks large quantities of water, yet may still have an electrolyte imbalance and may have either too much or too little salt in the body.
Tired muscles, especially at work, are the favourite targets of heat cramps.
Thirst can’t be a guide to tell if you’re going to be a candidate for heat cramps. If you work in a hot environment, drink some water every 15 to 20 minutes.  Then you’ll be safer.

Immediate action has to be taken during the onset of heat stroke



The signs of heat exhaustion are - headache, nausea, vertigo, weakness, thirst and giddiness. The skin is clammy and moist, the complexion is pale, yet the body temperature may be normal or slightly higher than normal. 

Heat exhaustion may be the first step toward heat stroke.  You may be close to fainting and not realize it.  Around machinery, heat exhaustion can be deadly.
Heat exhaustion is often brought on by lots of sweating without adequate fluid replacement.  There is also an excessive loss of salt.
Immediate fluid replacement is necessary along with some rest.  Medical attention is also a good idea.

Heat stress can accumulate throughout the day



The brain doesn’t receive enough oxygen because there’s too much blood-pooling in the arms and legs.

The result: fainting.  Not a good situation when you’re working with machinery or climbing up a ladder in a warehouse.

In an attempt to cool your system, enlarged blood vessels under the skin take up a lot of the blood, reducing blood flow to the brain or other organs.
Often, people who aren’t acclimatized to higher temperatures may become good candidates for heat collapse, especially if their work  involves a lot of standing on one spot in a hot environment.

Moving about and/or performing some light stretches will help to offset the blood-pooling.


It’s so hot, the body regulatory system packs up and the act of sweating the heat off just doesn’t work anymore.
The skin is hot and mostly dry.  It can also be red or spotted.  Temperature runs above 41 C or 105 F. 

Signs like mental confusion, delirium, convulsions or unconsciousness may be seen.  Without prompt medical attention, heat stroke can be lethal.

If you suspect someone of having a heat stroke, call an ambulance immediately. Until medical help arrives, remove the victim to a cool area if possible.
The skin should be soaked. Fan the body vigorously to increase cooling. Fluids should be replaced as soon as possible.

Be very careful during hot, humid days. Heat can accumulate in the body over a period of time. You may feel fine at the beach but on the drive home suddenly feel dizzy.

Please learn to pace yourself. Rest and hydrate frequently!

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