With temperatures soaring to near record levels this summer, I’d like to remind everyone to drink enough water while working outside. Dehydration can quickly lead to poor performance and heat related illness.
Preventing heat illness in the first place should be your first priority. The human body is very adaptable, but needs time to compensate for changes in its environment. If you are accustomed to working inside air-conditioned buildings, you are not going to be able to work for as long or as hard as a person that works in the fields every day. Gradually increasing your outdoor activities will minimize your discomfort. Take breaks from the heat at least every thirty minutes. Use shade as much as possible.
Drinking plenty of fluids is essential. With rigorous exercise in a hot environment, we can lose over three quarts of fluid by sweating in an hour. Our ability to absorb fluid is limited to a cup every fifteen minutes. Don’t let your sweating outrun your intake! Spraying tepid water over the body is an effective way to cool someone off rapidly, since evaporation is the best cooling method. Also, medicines for fever don’t work on heat illness. Plunging someone into cold water causes the skin to cool down so that it cannot release core body heat and so should be avoided.
Nausea, vomiting, weakness, dizziness, muscle aches and headache are the most prominent early symptoms of heat exhaustion. The person will usually be very sweaty, though they can be dry. Heat stroke, when heat regulation has completely broken down, has all the symptoms of heat exhaustion and then some. Hallucinations, extreme irritability, and a temperature of over 104 degrees are usually seen. Affected people need to be taken to the emergency room for treatment.
Drink plenty of water and enjoy the summer, safely!
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