Avoiding heat-related illnesses

June 1, 2009

Working in the hot summer sun can cause more than just discomfort. Serious medical conditions such as dehydration, fainting and heat stroke can send many workers to the hospital – and can even prove fatal in some cases. Those who are in poor health or are unaccustomed to working in the heat are most highly susceptible.

To prevent against heat-related illnesses, California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health offers the following tips:

  • Drink cool water throughout the day, averaging about 24 ounces per hour. This is about the rate at which the average person loses fluids through sweat. Do not wait until you feel thirsty to drink.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol or other beverages with high levels of sugar or caffeine.
  • Learn to recognize the warning signs of a heat-related illness. These include abnormal sweating, headache, cramping, dizziness, fatigue, blurry vision and vomiting.
  • Know how to call for help throughout the day if needed. Keep an eye on your co-workers, watching for signs of heat illnesses.
  • If you feel yourself beginning to overheat, tell your supervisor immediately. Rehydrate and go indoors, or find a cool, shaded area to rest.
  • Take a cold bath or shower when your workday is done to cool down your body.