Heat Related Illness: What You Need To Know

BY LCDR TODD P. DAVIS Why should you be concerned about heat related illness? Sailors and Marines fall victim to heat stress conditions every year compromising their health, productivity, and alertness hindering an organization’s ability to accomplish its mission. Heat-related illnesses occur when heat exposure or physical exertion increases to […]

BY LCDR TODD P. DAVIS

Inside StoryWhy should you be concerned about heat related illness? Sailors and Marines fall victim to heat stress conditions every year compromising their health, productivity, and alertness hindering an organization’s ability to accomplish its mission.

Heat-related illnesses occur when heat exposure or physical exertion increases to the point at which the body’s attempts to cool itself are no longer effective. Symptoms observed include profuse sweating, dehydration, rapid heart rate, cramps, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, and core body temperatures of 100°F and above. Workers and supervisors must be able to recognize symptoms early. If symptoms go untreated, heat-related illnesses can lead to death.

Training should be established within an organization to help supervisors and workers prevent, recognize, and treat heat-related illness. Supervisors should implement a heat acclimatization program for workers, encourage proper hydration, establish an appropriate work/rest schedule for heat stress conditions, ensure access to shade or cool areas, monitor workers during hot conditions, provide prompt medical attention to workers who show signs of illness, evaluate work practices continually to reduce exertion and environmental heat stress, monitor the heat index daily, and consider rescheduling jobs with high heat exposure to cooler times of the day.

Workers should drink water or other hydrating liquids frequently enough to never become thirsty (about 1 cup every 15-20 minutes), eat well-balanced meals, wear loose-fitting breathable clothing, take breaks in the shade or a cool area when possible, be aware that protective clothing or personal protective equipment may increase the risk of heat stress, monitor your physical condition and that of co-workers and tell a supervisor if they show symptoms of heat-related illness. Talk with your doctor about medications you are taking and how the medications may affect heat tolerance. Refer to figure 1 and figure 2 to assess your risk.

Figure 1

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 2

 

ABCDWHEN THE HEAT IS ON, STAY HYDRATED

You have the tools and resources, now put them into action. Use time critical risk management to keep the heat off! It’s as easy as ABCD.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:
Naval Safety Center
http://www.public.navy.mil/navsafecen/Pages/acquisition/heat_stress.aspx

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
https://www.cdc.gov/extremeheat/


LCDR Davis worked in the Shore Safety Programs Directorate of the Naval Safety Center, where he served as the industrial hygiene officer.