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Wisconsin Safety Council: Be Prepared for Hot Weather

MADISON – Wisconsin Safety Council encouraged all residents in the state to be prepared for the hot weather over the next couple days. With heat indexes reaching as high as 110 degrees in parts of the state, it is important to take precautions and know the signs of heat-related illnesses.

“Whether at work, home or somewhere else, it is critical to stay well-hydrated and cool during these hot summer days,” said Wisconsin Safety Council Senior Safety Manager Kady Olson. “As temperatures reach triple digits, Wisconsinites need to be aware of the dangers of high heat, especially those most at risk like young children, people over 65 and anyone who is sick.”

Wisconsin Safety Council – in partnership with the National Safety Council – suggest taking the following steps to combat high temperatures:

  • Individuals who work outside or in high-temperature facilities should work shorter shifts or take more breaks during the day to cool down
  • Everyone should stay hydrated throughout the day, including drinking fluids before getting thirsty
  • Replace salt that is lost through sweating by drinking fruit juice or sports drinks
  • Watch for coworkers or others who are exhibiting the signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke
  • Take time to rest and cool down throughout the day
  • Avoid spending time outdoors during the hottest period of the day, from 11am to 3pm
  • Wear sunscreen as sunburn can affect the body’s ability to cool itself

Two of the most common heat-related illnesses are heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Wisconsin Safety Council encourages everyone to understand the symptoms and what to do if you suspect someone is experiencing one of these ailments.

Heat Exhaustion

When the body loses excessive water and salt, usually due to sweating, heat exhaustion can occur. According to the National Safety Council, symptoms include:

  • Sweating
  • Pale, ashen or moist skin
  • Muscle cramps (especially for those working or exercising outdoors in high temperatures)
  • Fatigue, weakness or exhaustion
  • Headache, dizziness or fainting
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Rapid heart rate

To treat victims of heat exhaustion, you should:

  • Move victims to a shaded or air-conditioned area
  • Give water or other cool, nonalcoholic beverages
  • Apply wet towels, or have victims take a cool shower

Heat Stroke

Heat exhaustion can quickly turn into heat stroke if the victim is not treated quickly. Signs of heat stroke include:

  • Body temperature above 103 degrees
  • Skin that is flushed, dry and hot to the touch; sweating has usually stopped
  • Rapid breathing
  • Headache, dizziness, confusion or other signs of altered mental status
  • Irrational or belligerent behavior
  • Convulsions or unresponsiveness

If you suspect heat stroke, immediately:

  • Call 911
  • Move the victim to a cool place
  • Remove unnecessary clothing
  • Immediately cool the victim, preferably by immersing up to the neck in cold water (with the help of a second rescuer)
  • If immersion in cold water is not possible, place the victim in a cold shower or move to a cool area and cover as much of the body as possible with cold, wet towels
  • Keep cooling until body temperature drops to 101 degrees
  • Monitor the victim’s breathing and be ready to give CPR if needed
  • DO NOT force the victim to drink liquids
  • DO NOT apply rubbing alcohol to the skin
  • DO NOT allow the victim to take pain relievers or salt tablets

Heat related illnesses can set in quickly, so please take extra precautions as the temperatures continue to increase. To learn more about how to avoid heat-related illnesses at work, check out this recent column in Wisconsin Safety Voice: The Impact of Heat Stress on Workers.

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