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January 27, 2021   
August 07, 2006 

Beat the Heat

This week, landscape contractors slaved in the sun nationwide, as 100-plus temperatures were recorded from the Gulf Coast to the Canadian border.

The record-breaking temperatures are no surprise, considering The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association recently announced that January through June 2006 was the warmest first half of any year in the United States since records began in 1895.

The dog days of summer are upon us, and that’s particularly taxing for outdoor workers like landscape contractors whose exposure to the sun and heat can cause a variety of safety concerns like slipperiness caused by sweaty palms and health issues like heat-related illnesses.

Experts say common sense and prevention are the best defense to ward off heat-related illness. Staying hydrated and protecting yourself from the sun and heat are two tactics you can’t ignore. Over the course of a day, a worker’s body may produce as much as 2 to 3 gallons of sweat. Because dehydration is a key factor in the onset of many heat-related complications, it’s necessary that a person’s water intake equal or exceed the amount of sweat he or she produces. Workers should note that thirst is not a good indicator of how much to drink. Instead, remember to drink 5 to 7 ounces of fluids every 15 to 20 minutes. Avoid beverages that contain caffeine, alcohol or high-sugar content – they may cause you to lose more body fluid.

In addition to pain and skin damage, sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool itself and causes loss of body fluids. Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher. Remember to reapply it throughout the day, as dictated by the package. Also, choose lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing whenever possible.

Make co-workers aware of the heat and sun’s dangers, as well. The following is a guideline of heat-related illnesses from the Centers for Disease Control and the National Center for Environmental Health. Make employees aware of how to identify them and how to take action if someone is affected.

Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness. It occurs when the body’s temperature regulatory system fails. The body’s temperature rises, it ceases sweating and therefore is unable to cool down. Body temperature may rise to 106°F or higher within 10 to 15 minutes. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided. Warning signs of heat stroke vary but may include the following:

• An extremely high body temperature (above 103°F)
• Red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating)
• Rapid, strong pulse
• Throbbing headache
• Dizziness
• Nausea
• Confusion
• Unconsciousness

If you see any of these signs, you may be dealing with a life-threatening emergency. Have someone call for immediate medical assistance while you begin cooling the victim.

Do the following:

• Get the victim to a shady area.
• Cool the victim rapidly, using whatever methods you can. For example, immerse the victim in a tub of cool water; place the person in a cool shower; spray the victim with cool water from a garden hose; sponge the person with cool water; or if the humidity is low, wrap the victim in a cool, wet sheet and fan him or her vigorously.
• Monitor body temperature and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops to 101-102°F.
• If emergency medical personnel are delayed, call the hospital emergency room for further instructions.
• Do not give the victim alcohol to drink.
• Get medical assistance as soon as possible.

Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat-related illness that can develop after several days of exposure to high temperatures and inadequate or unbalanced replacement of fluids. The warning signs of heat exhaustion include the following:

• Heavy sweating
• Paleness
• Muscle cramps
• Tiredness
• Weakness
• Dizziness
• Headache
• Nausea or vomiting
• Fainting

The skin may be cool and moist. The pulse rate will be fast and weak, and breathing will be fast and shallow. If heat exhaustion is untreated, it may progress to heat stroke. See medical attention if symptoms worsen or last longer than one hour.

Take the following steps to cool the body during heat exhaustion:

• Drink cool, nonalcoholic beverages.
• Rest.
• Take a cool shower, bath, or sponge bath.
• Seek an air-conditioned environment.
• Wear lightweight clothing.

Heat cramps are muscle pains or spasms – usually in the abdomen, arms, or legs – that may occur in association with strenuous activity. People who sweat a lot during strenuous activity are prone to heat cramps. This sweating depletes the body’s salt and moisture. The low salt level in the muscles causes painful cramps. Heat cramps may also be a symptom of heat exhaustion. If you have heart problems or are on a low-sodium diet, seek medical attention for heat cramps.

If medical attention is not necessary, take the following steps:

• Stop all activity and sit quietly in a cool place.
• Drink clear juice or a sports beverage.
• Do not return to strenuous activity for a few hours after the cramps subside because further exertion may lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
• Seek medical attention for heat cramps if they do not subside in 1 hour.

Heat rash is a skin irritation caused by excessive sweating during hot, humid weather. Heat rash looks like a red cluster of pimples or small blisters. It is more likely to occur on the neck and upper chest, in the groin, under the breasts, and in elbow creases.

To treat heat rash:

• Provide a cooler, less humid environment.
• Keep the affected area dry.
• Use dusting powder may be used to increase comfort, but avoid using ointments or creams – they keep the skin warm and moist and may make the condition worse.

Back to News/Press Releases >> Source: Landscape Online
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