As summer is officially here, it is very important to understand the adverse effects of heat stress on our day-to-day life. This applies to anyone who works outside doing security, construction, or even first responders. Heat stress can cause multiple illnesses such as cramps, exhaustion, and heat strokes. Here are some symptoms of these illnesses, and best practices to treat/prevent them.
3 tips to treat heat-stress
Heat cramps are muscle pains and spasms that happen due to the imbalance of salt. These mostly affect the large muscle groups in our body such chest, arms, abdominals, and legs. When you experience heat cramps:
- Immediately stop all activities, and rest in a cool place
- Drink clear juice (ideally water)
- Have a banana if you have one on hand. Seek medical attention if cramps do not stabilize within an hour
3 tips to treat heat exhaustion
Heat exhaustion is a build-up of several days of exposure to high temperatures. The symptoms of heat exhaustion are extreme weakness or fatigue, headache, irritability, and clammy moist skin with profuse sweating. If you notice these signs:
- Provide non-alcoholic beverages if conscious
- Move them to a shaded area
- Cool the victim by fanning, sponging with cool water, or applying ice packs.
Heat exhaustion could also lead to heatstroke.
4 tips to treat heatstroke
Heatstrokes must be taken very seriously as they can be life-threatening. Watch out for drastically rising body temperature, dry and red patches on the skin with lack of perspiration, nausea, dizziness, strong and rapid pulse, seizure, loss of consciousness, or confused/irrational behavior. If you notice it in yourself, or in others you are with:
- Make every attempt to move the affected individual to a shaded area
- Cool off by fanning and applying ice packs
- Remove boots, socks, and any other heavy excess clothing
- Give water only if conscious
Prevention is Key
The above measures can be taken as immediate actions to treat the illnesses. But remember, prevention is always better than cure. Therefore, an ideal way to prevent such illnesses is to practice a better lifestyle, to begin with. For example, as you anticipate warmer weather in the next few days, try staying hydrated ahead of time. Also, ensure you hydrate yourself with water over any other drinks like alcohol, caffeine, carbonated drinks, and sugar in general. The idea is to drink small amounts of fluid more frequently. Another tip is to drink fluids that aren’t too cold and preferably at room temperature. You may also include fruits and vegetables in your diet to allow a more diverse source of fluid for your body. Eat light, keep your meals cool, and eat frequently.
Summer is the most tiring of all seasons, but proper measures taken in a timely manner can prevent the negative effects of the season, and make life more enjoyable and fun at work, or at home. Take all necessary precautions, and don’t shy away from asking for help when needed!