Staying safe in summer heat

Staying safe in summer heat
If you're planning to be working outside, take precautions to ensure you do not suffer from heat exhaustion or heat stroke. (Source: WDAM)

PINE BELT, Miss. (WDAM) - Those putting in the long hours out in the extreme summer heat need to be mindful of the dangers that can occur.

"We want to make sure that we prevent our bodies from suffering, most especially heat stroke, because heat exhaustion, if left untreated, can mature and develop into heat stroke,” said Hunt Hutson, safety officer with the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

Hutson said the company does what it can to properly educate and take care of their workers during times of severe heat.

“We want to watch out for, not just ourselves, because we are not only responsible for our own health and well-being, but also our brothers, I.E. our coworkers, our family members and friends,” said Hutson. “They can also be suffering the effects of heat induces illness and not actually realize it.”

If you do not take the proper precautions while in the heat, you can suffer from various heat-related illnesses, such as heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Hutson has a few tips on how you can do what you can to be prepared for the heat.

“First, make sure you acclimate. If you’re not a native of here, give yourself a week to become used to it,” Hutson said. “Second, make sure you’re prepared when you go out into the field. Taking water, cooler full of water with you. We provide that for them, making sure each of our locations has access to ice, so that they can prepare for that hot weather before they are in that environment.”

MDOT’s number of heat-related illness reported last year for the state was 13. There were only two in the Pine Belt.

Different types of heat-related illness include heat stroke, cramps, rashes and fatigue.

Make sure you avoid those illness is to have plenty of water, take small breaks, and monitor yourself closely for signs of possible illness.

Recognizing and treating heat exhaustion and heat stroke

The following information from the Mississippi State Department of Health will help you recognize and treat heat illnesses.

Signs of heat exhaustion:

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

The skin may be cool and moist. The victim’s pulse rate will be fast and weak, and breathing will be fast and shallow.

You should seek medical attention immediately if the symptoms are severe or the victim has heart or high blood pressure.

Otherwise, MSDH says you should try to cool the victim off.

What to do in event of heat exhaustion:

  • Drink cool water or nonalcoholic beverages
  • Rest
  • Take a cool shower, bath, or sponge bath
  • Get into an air-conditioned room
  • Change into lightweight clothing

Seek medical help if the symptoms get worse or last longer than an hour. If heat exhaustion is not treated, it may progress to heat stroke.

Signs of heat stroke:

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

What to do in the event of a heat stroke:

  • Call for immediate medical assistance.
  • Get the victim out of the sun or heat.
  • 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 degrees.
  • If emergency medical personnel are delayed, call the hospital emergency room for further instructions.
  • Do not give the victim fluids to drink.

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