Working in Heat

Ordinarily, the heat-regulating mechanisms of the body work very well. However, illness will occur when the body is exposed to more heat energy than it can handle. When the body gains or retains more heat than it loses, the result is called hyperthermia or high core temperature, which can cause damage to the brain and other vital organs and could be fatal.

Factors that Increase Heat Illness

  • Elevated air temperatures and humidity working around hot machinery
  • Vigorous work activity
  • Absence of a breeze or wind
  • Exposure to direct sunlight

General Precautions for Hot Environments

  • Fluid replacement is the most important thing a person can do to prevent heat-related illnesses; the body can lose 1 to 2 quarts of fluid per hour during vigorous activity in a hot environment
  • Eight ounces of fluid replacement every 15 minutes is recommended
  • Alternate between water and Gatorade type drinks—not sodas or sweetened drinks
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine
  • If possible, get acclimated; this can take several days
  • Use sunscreen or sunblock
  • Wear loose, long-sleeved shirts and (preferably) long pants
  • Wear a wide brimmed hat; baseball caps do not provide protection for the ears and neck
  • Wear sunglasses
  • Provide overhead sun protection, water, and/or fluid supply for your cast and crew

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