Different people react differently to heat. Some symptoms of heat exhaustion are headache, heat cramps, weakness, dizziness or nausea. You may have blurred vision, pass out, suffer convulsions and ultimately death.
High humidity adds to the suffering. Your body will not cool down as much from sweating because the sweat cannot evaporate as efficiently. Everyone is more irritable and makes more mistakes when the temperature is above the comfort zone. Be aware of the conditions and be more careful.
In general at about 85° and 90% humidity most people begin to be uncomfortable. At about 92° and 90% humidity the body begins to react and heat exhaustion is possible. Whether or not a person can function in the heat is dependent upon your health, your physical condition and how hard you are working. Other factors are how much sleep you got the night before or how well rested you are. Stress is another factor in your ability to cope with the heat. A major factor is your acclimatization or how much time you spend working in the heat. Smoking, alcohol, or illness reduces your tolerance to heat.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO IMPROVE YOUR TOLERANCE?
Spend some time working outdoors in the heat. Gradually increase workloads and allow more frequent breaks for workers new to the heat or those that have been away from work to adapt to working in the heat (acclimatization).
Always drink plenty of water. At least one pint of water per hour is needed. Drink often and BEFORE you are thirsty. Drink water every 15 minutes.
Some extra salt is necessary because salt is lost in sweat.
Acetic acid increases your tolerance to heat. Acetic acid is in lemonade and citrus fruits it is also in vinegar. Pickles and pickled products will help you feel more energetic in the heat.
Wear lightweight, light colored, loose fitting clothes.
WHAT NOT TO DO!
Beer is not a Sports drink. Alcohol is a diuretic; this means it will dry you out more than quench your thirst. Coffee and soft drinks that contain caffeine will act the same way in your body. The more you drink, the more you will need to drink to keep up with your moisture loss through urination. A hang over is dehydration, about the same feeling as heat exhaustion complete with the headache and nausea.
SYMPTOMS OF HEAT EXHAUSTION:
Headache, dizziness, or fainting
Weakness and wet skin
Irritability or confusion
Thirst, nausea, or vomiting
SYMPTOMS OF HEAT EXHAUSTION
• May be confused, unable to think clearly, pass out, collapse or have seizures (fits)
• May stop sweating
WHAT TO DO WHEN A WORKER IS ILL FROM THE HEAT
• Call a supervisor for help. If the supervisor is not available, call 911.
• Have someone stay with the worker until help arrives.
• Move the worker to a cooler/shaded area.
• Remove outer clothing.
• Fan and mist the worker with water; apply ice (ice bags or ice towels).
• Provide cool drinking water, if able to drink.
IF THE WORKER IS NOT ALERT or seems confused, this may be a heat stroke. CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY and apply ice as soon as possible.