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Preparing to Avoid Heat-Related Illness

Summer is just around the corner—but in sunny SoCal, high temperatures don’t always depend on what page of the calendar we’re on! And that means that whatever the season, we need to be aware of the symptoms of heat-related illness... and how to handle them.

Every time a heat wave strikes, we get news of people and pets suffering (and even dying) from heat-related illness such as heat stress, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Though many of these stories seem to focus on elderly people, babies and toddlers, and athletes slogging through intense workouts wearing heavy gear, the fact is that heat-related illness is an equal-opportunity problem: it can strike anyone, including perfectly healthy adults.

Each year, for instance, thousands of workers fall ill and dozens die from working in heat. (Again, it’s an equal-opportunity problem—but according to the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration, there are industries that are particularly impacted by heat-related illness: trade, transportation, and utilities; building and grounds maintenance; construction; and landscaping services.)

The good news is that preventing heat-related illness is quite simple.

  • Wear protective clothing in hot weather (for instance, wide-brimmed hats, long-sleeved shirts, pants).
  • Do not stay in hot, enclosed spaces (such as a parked car).
  • Hydrate! Drink plenty of other water or other fluids (except for caffeinated, sugary, or alcoholic beverages).
  • During work or play, make use of cool, shady areas for breaks.

How do you know if someone may have heat-related illness? Watch for:

  • Cold, pale, clammy skin
  • A fast, weak pulse
  • Heavy sweating
  • Disorientation

Then what?

  • Move the person to a cooler location.
  • Have the person lie down and loosen any constrictive clothing.
  • Apply wet, cool cloths to the person’s skin.
  • Have the person sip water.

These simple steps may be enough to help the person recover, but you should be prepared to call 911 if the person

  • Has a temperature above 103°F
  • Has hot, red, dry, or moist skin
  • Is continuously vomiting
  • Has a rapid, strong pulse
  • Is unconscious

Enjoy your summer, and make sure the people around you do, too. Stop heat-related illness before it starts—but be aware of the signs so you can spot them, and treat them, promptly.

For more than 25 years, Beall Financial and Insurance Services, Inc., has been helping corporations and individuals protect their most important assets. The agency’s client base covers a spectrum of businesses that require specialized insurance packages and knowledge. With offices in California and Indiana, Beall Financial and Insurance Services serves clients nationwide.