ESD 112 Insurance Programs Safety Talks
National Heat Awareness Day is observed annually on the last Friday of May. This day was founded as a reminder that working in hot weather can put you at risk of a serious heat-related illness, and even death.

During the summer months, employees should be especially aware of the dangers associated with working in high-temperature environments. Heat and humidity combined with physical exertion can do more than just make you uncomfortable. It can lead to a variety of heat-related illnesses. Awareness of heat-related illness symptoms can save your life or the life of a co-worker.

Heat Exhaustion Symptoms

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness/light headedness
  • Weakness
  • Mood changes (irritable or confused)
  • Feeling sick to your stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased and dark colored urine
  • Fainting; pale clammy skin

According to the Mayo Clinic, untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke, which is a life-threatening condition.

If you suspect heat exhaustion, take these steps immediately:

  • Move the person out of the heat and into a shady or air-conditioned place
  • Lay the person down and elevate the legs and feet slightly
  • Remove tight or heavy clothing
  • Have the person sip chilled water, a decaffeinated sports drink containing electrolytes or other nonalcoholic beverage without caffeine
  • Cool the person by spraying or sponging with cool water and fanning
  • Monitor the person carefully
Contact a health care provider if signs or symptoms worsen or if the person doesn't improve after taking first-aid measures.

Heat Stroke Symptoms – A medical emergency, Dial 911 and seek immediate help if symptoms include:

  • Confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • Unconsciousness
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Heavy sweating or hot, dry skin
  • Very high body temperature

Three key words - training, water and shade are at the heart of precautions that can prevent serious heat illnesses:
  • Provide annual training to employees and supervisors on symptoms of outdoor heat exposure and how to respond to emergencies,
  • Drink plenty of water when temperatures require preventive measures, and
  • Take your breaks in a cool shaded area and allow time for recovery from the heat during the day.

Other precautions include:
  • Acclimate yourself to the heat. If you are coming back to work from an illness or an extended break or starting a job working in the heat, it is important to be aware that you are more vulnerable to heat stress until your body has time to adjust.
  • Whenever possible, wear clothing that provides protection from the sun but allows airflow. Protect your head and shade your eyes if working outdoors.
  • Take care to limit caffeine intake and be aware of any side effects of medication you are taking that could increase the risk of heat-related illness.

May 1 through September 30, Washington state requires that all employers with employees exposed to outdoor temperatures above applicable levels implement a heat stress program. An Outdoor Heat Exposure Prevention Plan should be part of your district’s Accident Prevention Plan.


If you have any questions, please contact Trista Greenwood at or Wendy Niehaus at
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