Articles

Types of Heat Stress and Treatment

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Heat-related injuries range from minor to life-threatening, depending upon exposure. In environmental temperatures of 90 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, heat cramps or heat exhaustion is possible. In temperatures of 105 to 130 degrees, heat cramps or heat exhaustion is likely and heat stroke is possible. In temperatures above 130 degrees, heat stroke is highly possible. To determine environmental temperatures, see the heat index chart below.

 

Environmental Temperature (F)

Relative
Humidity

70

75

80

85

90

95

100

105

110

115

120

0%

64

69

73

78

83

97

91

95

99

103

107

10%

65

70

75

80

85

90

95

100

105

111

116

20%

66

72

77

82

87

93

99

105

112

120

130

30%

67

73

78

84

90

96

104

113

123

135

148

40%

68

74

79

86

93

101

110

123

137

151

 

50%

69

75

81

88

96

107

120

135

150

 

 

60%

70

76

82

90

100

114

132

149

 

 

 

70%

70

77

85

93

106

124

144

 

 

 

 

80%

71

78

86

97

113

136

 

 

 

 

 

90%

71

79

88

102

122

 

 

 

 

 

 

100%

72

80

91

108

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heat Exhaustion

Symptoms:

  • Sweating
  • Moist, clammy skin
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Slightly elevated temperature
  • Headache
  • Disorientation

Treatment:

  • Remove from heat.
  • Apply cool cloths and fan the victim. If chills set in, stop.
  • Give plenty of water; about 1 cup every 15 minutes.
  • Seek medical attention.
  • Do not give alcohol or tobacco products.
  • Never leave the victim alone.

Heat Stroke

Symptoms:

  • Hot, dry skin
  • Red or spotted skin
  • Extremely high temperature
  • Mental confusion
  • Convulsions
  • Loss of consciousness

Treatment:

  • Remove from heat.
  • Remove the clothing and place in a cool bath.
  • Immediately seek medical attention.
  • Do not administer fluids or medicines.
  • Do not give alcohol or tobacco products.
  • Do not allow the victim to become cold.
  • Never leave the victim alone.

Heat Cramps

Symptoms:

  • Painful spasms in legs and/or abdomen
  • Heavy sweating

Treatment:

  • Apply firm pressure on muscles or gently massage to relieve cramp.
  • Give sips of water unless nausea occurs.

Sun Burn

Symptoms:

  • Redness of skin and pain
  • Blisters in severe sun burn
  • Fever or headaches possible

Treatment:

  • Apply approved ointments for mild cases.
  • If blisters appear, do not break.
  • If sun burn is severe, seek medical attention.

Heat Rash

Symptoms:

  • "Prickly" painful skin rash caused by plugged sweat ducts.

Treatment:

  • Rest in a cool place part of each day.
  • Bathe and dry skin regularly.

Avoiding Heat Stress

Employers should encourage or require employees to do the following to reduce the potential for heat stress:

  • Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Reduce or eliminate alcohol and tobacco intake.
  • Build up tolerance for warm environments by gradually increasing working time.
  • Stay physically fit.
  • Dress in light colors if possible.
  • Dress in loose clothing if possible.
  • Eat low-fat, nutritious foods.
  • Get plenty of rest and take breaks.
  • Watch co-workers for signs of heat stress.
  • Understand that personal protective equipment can increase chances of heat stress.
  • Wear gel packs, a cooling vest or use a cool mister if possible.
  • Ventilate the workplace whenever possible and/or use fans.
  • Work in the morning hours whenever possible.

Originally Published: December 1, 2001


Name:
Email:
Subject:
Message:
x