We are just getting into the summer months, but people are already feeling the heat. Last summer ranked as one of the hottest the United States has ever experienced, and certain states have already passed the 90° threshold.
For those working on the pavement, extra caution is needed to protect yourself from heat waves. Heat waves are extended periods of excessive heat—usually accompanied by excessive humidity.
But what if you’re out in the heat and something happens? What if you or a coworker suddenly start experiencing symptoms? How do you know what’s going on? And how can you help? Here are three common illness to be on the lookout for:
If you’re sweating heavily while you’re working or experiencing muscle pain or spasms, you may be experiencing heat cramps. Stop whatever you’re doing and get yourself to a cooler environment. Wait for the cramping to end and drink some water or an electrolyte supplement. If your cramps last longer than an hour, or you have heart problems, seek medical attention immediately.
If your pulse begins to accelerate, or you begin to feel nauseous, dizzy, or fatigued, you may be experiencing heat exhaustion. If this is how you feel, move yourself to a cooler environment and slowly sip water. If you start throwing up or the symptoms worsen, seek medical attention immediately.
This illness is the most drastic and is to be taken very seriously. If your pulse is racing, if you are losing consciousness, or have a fever, you may be experiencing a heat stroke. Inform someone else immediately. If your coworker is experiencing this, call 911 immediately. Move the person to a colder place until medical help arrives. You can help them cool down with damp cloths or cool water on their skin. Do not give them anything to drink.
Working in the sun is not to be taken lightly. We are grateful for the roadside workers who put themselves out there every day to keep people safe. Be aware of the people around you, and do what it takes to stay protected in the heat. The safety of people is worth investing in. Let’s all do our part to keep ourselves cool.