Heat Exhaustion and Heatstroke
As we celebrated summer solstice on 21 June, we are now officially in the summer season.
Hopefully you’ll be able to enjoy some sun, but it’s important to be aware of the danger of heat as it can cause heat exhaustion or heatstroke.
Although the sun can be the main cause of a hot working environment, heat can come from many other sources such as machinery and equipment found in bakeries, factories, laundries or a restaurant kitchen.
In hot and humid conditions, sweating can cause the body to gradually lose salt and water. This can lead to someone experiencing heat exhaustion.
As heat exhaustion develops you may notice the following symptoms:
- headache, dizziness and confusion
- loss of appetite and nausea
- sweating, with pale and clammy skin
- cramps in the arms, legs or abdomen
- rapid breathing.
If you notice these symptoms, you can help the person with some simple, straightforward actions.
- Help them to a cool, shady place and get them to lie down.
Raise and support their legs to improve blood flow to the brain.
- Give them plenty of water to sip.
If you have isotonic drinks or oral rehydration sachets, these will help to restore the body's salt levels.
- Monitor them.
- If their condition worsens, call 999 for emergency medical help.
Heatstroke is a serious condition that occurs when the body becomes dangerously over-heated. It is usually caused by prolonged exposure to heat.
There may be:
- headache, dizziness and discomfort
- restlessness and confusion
- hot, flushed and dry skin
- rapid deterioration in the level of response
- body temperature above 40 degrees Celsius.
If you notice any of these signs of heatstroke, you should not delay in carrying out the following actions.
- Call 911 for emergency medical help.
As quickly as possible, move the person to a cool, shaded place and remove outer layers of clothing.
- Cool them down.
Wrap them in a cold, damp sheet until their body temperature starts to fall. Keep the sheet wet by continually pouring cold water over it. If you don't have a sheet, you can sponge them with cold water or fan them to bring down their temperature.
- Monitor them while you are waiting for help to arrive.
Heat-related illnesses and a wide range of other topics are covered in our first aid at work course