Streamline - Summer 2015 - (Page 19)

Excessive exposure to heat can cause a range of heat-related illnesses, from heat rash and heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Preventing Heat-Related Illnesses BY GARY GANDEE, CIRCUIT RIDER II some part of their workday in a hot environment and often face conditions which pose hazards to their safety and health. Workers exposed to hot indoor environments or hot and humid conditions outdoors are at risk of heat-related illness, especially those performing strenuous activities or wearing bulky and non-breathable protective clothing and equipment. Some workers might be at a greater risk than others if they have not built up a tolerance to hot conditions, or if they have certain health conditions. MANY WORKERS SPEND When a person works in a hot environment, the body must get rid of excess heat to maintain a stable internal temperature. It does this mainly through sweating and by circulating blood to the skin. When the air temperature is close to or warmer than normal body temperature, cooling of the body becomes more difficult. Blood circulated to the skin cannot lose its heat. Sweating then becomes the main way the body cools off. However, sweating is effective only if the humidity level is low enough to allow for evaporation and if lost fluids and salts are adequately replaced. If the body cannot get rid of excess heat, it will store it. When this happens, the body's core temperature rises and the heart rate increases. As the body continues to store heat, the person begins to lose concentration and has difficulty focusing on a task, may become irritable or sick, and often loses the desire to drink. The next stage is often fainting and even death if the person is not cooled down. Excessive exposure to heat can cause a range of heat-related illnesses, from heat rash and heat cramps to heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat stroke, the most serious form of heat-related illness, happens when the body becomes unable to regulate its core temperature. Sweating stops and the body can no longer rid itself of excess heat. Signs include confusion, loss of consciousness and seizures. Heat stroke is a medical emergency that may result in death. Call 911 immediately. Heat exhaustion is the body's response to loss of water and salt from heavy sweating. Signs include headache, nausea, dizziness, weakness, irritability, thirst and heavy sweating. Heat cramps are caused by the loss of body salts and fluid during sweating. Low salt levels in muscles cause painful cramps. Tired muscles - those used for performing the work - are usually the ones most affected by cramps. Cramps may occur during or after working hours. Heat rash, also known as prickly heat, is skin irritation caused by sweat that does not evaporate from the skin. Heat rash is the most common problem in hot work environments. Risk Level Protective Measures Less than 91°F Lower (Caution) Basic heat safety and planning 91°F to 103°F Moderate Implement precautions and heighten awareness 103°F to 115°F High Additional precautions to protect workers Greater than 115°F Very High to Extreme Triggers even more aggressive protective measures 19

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Streamline - Summer 2015

From the President: A Disinfection Byproducts Odyssey
From the Executive Director: It’s Over
Importance of Professional Relationships in the Water and Wastewater Industry
Spring Cleaning … All Year Long
Region Meetings: the Next Big Thing
Preventing Heat-Related Illnesses
Virginia Source Water
USDA Rural Development
A Successful Model for Waterworks
Professional Licensing Update: News You Can Use
NRWA Recap
Tank Team Tackles Water Distribution
VRWA 2015 Conference Highlights
Town of Lovettsville Wins the ‘Great Water Taste Contest’
Throwing My Loop: Helpers in Our Path
Wastewater Crossword
VRWA Booster Club
e-Learning Benefits
Membership Application
Do You Know What Your VRWA Benefits Are?
VRWA Mailbag
New Members
Board of Directors
VRWA Committees
Index to Advertisers/

Streamline - Summer 2015