By Dee Jepsen, PhD; Pat Brinkman, MA; and Jill Kilanowski, PhD, RN, CPNP, FAAN
When working outdoors the sun and heat can be our enemies. The heat during these hot summer months adds additional stress to our body’s coolant system, which can cause heat stroke, heat stress or heat exhaustion. Working in extreme heat lowers the body’s reaction time and increases risk to other illnesses or injuries.
Death from excessive heat can be explicit — meaning it is the underlying factor that caused the person to die. Besides the sun and heat, wearing additional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) can burden our body’s regulatory capacity and place workers at increased risk for heat illnesses. Persons with cardiovascular or respiratory illnesses can also be vulnerable to heat; making heart attacks, strokes and other circulatory system attacks more common during the summer months.
Steps to take reduce heat exposure:
- Drink fluids before thirsty. During strenuous work, persons should have 1 cup (8 ounces) of water every 15 to 20 minutes.