Heat stress is well recognized by many employers. Its symptoms are easy to spot: profuse sweating, weakness, muscle cramps, headache, nausea and vomiting. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conducted research showing that work in hot environments is tied to lower mental awareness, reduced mental faculties, and physical performance… and subsequently, more injuries.
What about the people that aren’t working in the sun? What about people that are retired? What about those folks that are taking a day off from work or are homemakers and simply have a poorly functioning or broken air-conditioning unit? Heat stress can happen inside too! Elderly and infants are most at risk but healthy adults can also be susceptible.
It’s suggested that everyone limit their outdoor activity to early AM or late PM. Use fans, take frequent cool showers, go to the mall, theater, restaurant, or library during the hottest point of the day.
If that’s not enough or if you would like to preempt having to take those evacuatory steps, call Trinity Home Services at (504) 287-4829 and have one of our experienced HVAC technicians provide you with a complete A/C Check-Up today.
Heat stress can be caused by a range of things but more important than its causes are the steps you can take to help prevent heat stress from happening.
- Drink plenty of water. Approximately 1 cup of cool water every 15 to 20 minutes should do the trick even if you’re not thirsty. Stay away from alcohol, coffee, tea and caffeinated soft drinks that can dehydrate the body.
- Stay away from strenuous activities. 104 degree weather does NOT make for a good day to repave your driveway. Rest for long periods throughout the day. Alternate your activity and rest periods, with rest periods in the coolest areas of your home. Shorter, more frequent periods of activity are best but try to avoid activity completely.
- Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Wool is not your friend in the heat. Try thin cottons instead. And if you saturate your clothes with sweat, it’s time to change into something dry!
- Use proper ventilation and spot cooling after activities or hotter points of the day. Good airflow increases evaporation and cooling of the skin. Ice packs are helpful too.
- Some people get hot quicker than others and there are certain factors that greatly contribute: obesity, lack of conditioning, pregnancy and inadequate rest can increase susceptibility to heat stress. Pay extra attention if you share a residence with someone who fits any of these conditions and help make sure they do not get heat stress.
- Learn to recognize and treat the signs of heat stress and heat related illness so you can act quickly.