Cool It!

OSHA Chronicle

OSHA Chronicle


When it’s hot, your body sweats to keep you cool. Perspiration comes to the surface of your skin. As it evaporates, you begin to feel cooler. When it’s humid outside, it’s harder for the perspiration on the surface of your skin to evaporate because the air is already saturated with moisture. That’s why people often say it’s not the heat, but the humidity that makes it unbearable to be outside on a hot day — but both play a role in your body's overheating. 

The three main types of heat emergencies are

Heat Cramps, Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke.

Heat Cramps

Symptoms: Painful spasms in the larger body muscles (ex. legs, stomach and/or back) this results from a loss of fluids and salt from heavy sweating.

Treatment: Find a cool place to rest while drinking more water and massage cramped muscles.

Heat Exhaustion

Symptoms: Can include: Moist, clammy skin (may look pale), heavy sweating, rapid breathing, weak pulse, a feeling of weakness or being tired, confused or clumsy, blurred vision and/or fainting

First aid treatment: First move victim to cool place, give cool water only if conscious and coherent, have victim sit or lay down and apply wet tow- els and cool packs to pressure points. Seek medical attention if improvement is not noted in 30 minutes as heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke. 

Heat Stroke 

Symptoms: At this point the body has used up excess water and salt, sweating stops and body temperature elevates. The skin will be dry and hot to the touch. The person will appear weak, confused possibly upset and irrational. They will likely have a headache and be dizzy, may have loss of consciousness and have convulsions. 

First aid treatment: Immediately call ambulance as heat stroke can quickly lead to death. Move the victim to a cool place and remove heavy and excess clothing. Cool the person's entire body by sponging or spraying cold water, and fan the person to help lower the person's body temperature. Be prepared to care for seizures if necessary. Do not use aspirin or acetaminophen. Most people with heatstroke have an altered level of consciousness and cannot safely be given fluids to drink. If the person is awake and alert enough to swallow, give the person fluids [32 fl oz (1 L) to 64 fl oz (2 L) over 1 to 2 hours] for hydration. Make sure the person is sitting up enough so that he or she does not choke. Lastly, do not send them home or leave them alone no matter how much they protest, unless a physician has approved it. 


More tips and graphics to help you watch out for Heat Related Illness in this edition of Wachs Weekly!