Heat Illness Treatment And Prevention
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Avoid Overexposure to Heat and Sun During the Summer Months

Avoid Overexposure to Heat and Sun During Summer Months

Agricultural workers are especially vulnerable to the hazards of sun and heat exposure. For instance, crop workers are 20 times more likely to die of heat stroke than all other U.S. workers, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Heat illness symptoms

When the body becomes overheated, less blood goes to the active muscles, brain and other organs, causing workers to become weak, tire more quickly and be less alert – a particularly dangerous situation when operating farm equipment. Known as heat illness or heat stress, this condition has 3 main phases.

Dehydration 

The trouble begins when you aren't taking in enough water. Fatigue, thirst, dry mouth and sapped energy are signs of dehydration, which can also lead to cramping in the legs and abdomen. 

Heat exhaustion

A more serious stage of heat stress, heat exhaustion occurs when the body loses a lot of water and salt. Symptoms include excessive sweating, extreme fatigue, clammy skin, dizziness or confusion, nausea, and fast, shallow breathing. 

Heat stroke 

The most dangerous heat illness, heat stroke signals that the body can’t regulate its temperature. Internal temps rise rapidly and the body is unable to cool down. Watch for hot, dry skin or profuse sweating, chills, throbbing headache, poor coordination, slurred speech, vomiting, hallucinations, fainting or collapse.

Heat illness treatment

Treat heat illness as soon you begin showing signs of heat stress, which has 3 stages.

1. For dehydration or heat cramps

2. For heat exhaustion, follow the treatment for dehydration, then

3. In the case of heat stroke

Preventing hot weather health problems

To reduce the odds of someone on your team suffering from a heat-related illness, try these essential tips from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Carle Center for Rural Health and Farm Safety:

For more information about heat illness treatment and prevention, see OSHA's "Water. Rest. Shade." campaign.

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