Those school district employees working outdoors in hot weather and direct sun may be at higher risk of heat-related illness. Heat-related illnesses are preventable.
- Train all employees and supervisors in identifying and preventing heat illness, and teach them how to respond to emergencies.
- During hot weather, increase your fluid intake, regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. During heavy exercise in a hot environment, drink two to four glasses (16-32 ounces) of cool fluids each hour. Don’t drink liquids that contain caffeine, alcohol, or large amounts of sugar—these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also, avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. However, if you are on a low-salt diet, talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage.
- Take breaks in a cool shaded area and allowing enough time for recovery.
Other precautions include:
- Acclimating yourself to the heat. If you are coming back to work from an illness or an extended break or you are just 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 to the body. Protect your head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat (also keeps you cooler) along with sunglasses, and by putting on sunscreen.
- When working in the heat, monitor the condition of your co-workers and have someone do the same for you. Heat-induced illness can cause a person to become confused or lose consciousness.
- Although any one at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk. Overweight people may be prone to heat sickness because of their tendency to retain more body heat. People who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure, or who take certain medications, such as for depression, insomnia, or poor circulation, may be affected by extreme heat.
- Respond to heat-related illness and medical emergencies without delay. Workers who show symptoms of heat-related illness need immediate attention. Treating milder symptoms (headache, weakness) early by providing rest in a shaded area and cool water to drink can prevent a more serious medical emergency. Call 911 immediately if a worker loses consciousness or appears confused or uncoordinated. These are signs of possible heat stroke. Heat stroke is fatal if not treated immediately.