Heat safety tips for farm work
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Avoid injury with heat safety tips for farm work

Farm heat safety tips

Agricultural workers are especially vulnerable to the hazards of heat and sun 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). These hot weather safety tips can help prevent heat related problems.

Heat illness symptoms and treatment

When our bodies become overheated, less blood goes to the active muscles, brain and other organs. This causes us to become weak, tire more quickly and be less alert, which is a particularly dangerous situation when operating farm equipment.

Known as heat illness or heat stress, this condition has three main phases.

1. 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.

To treat dehydration or heat cramps:

2. Heat exhaustion

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

To treat heat exhaustion, follow the treatment for dehydration, then:

3. Heat stroke

The most dangerous heat illness, heat stroke signals that your body can’t regulate its temperature. Internal temps rise rapidly and your 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.

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 heat safety tips from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Carle Center for Rural Health and Farm Safety:

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

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