The combination of heat and humidity can be deadly for those who work outdoors or in hot environments such as in a kitchen, laundry or bakery. Here are some precautions from OSHA:
- Drink water frequently—about one cup every 15 minutes.
- Wear light-colored, loose-fitting, breathable clothing—cotton is good.
- Take frequent short breaks in cool shade.
- Eat smaller meals before work activity.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol or large amounts of sugar.
- Work in the shade.
- Use cooling fans.
- Find out from your health care provider if your medications and heat don’t mix.
- Know that equipment such as respirators or work suits can increase heat stress.
You also need to be prepared to recognize and deal with heat-related disorders.
Heat exhaustion. Symptoms of heat exhaustion are: headache, dizziness, lightheadedness or fainting; weakness and moist skin; mood changes such as irritability or confusion; and upset stomach or vomiting.
Heat stroke. Symptoms of heat stroke are: dry, hot skin with no sweating; mental confusion or losing consciousness; and seizures or convulsions.
What to do. If a coworker experiences a heat-related illness, call 911 or your local emergency number at once. While waiting for help to arrive: