July 2013 Safety Tip

Six Ways to avoid Heat Injuries

“But it’s a dry heat”. We have all heard of that little joke, but when you are working outside in the Arizona Summer heat then you’re probably not laughing anymore. Heat injuries have a way of creeping up on us unexpectedly and a Heat Stroke is the most serious . Heat Stroke results from prolonged exposure to high temperatures in combination with dehydration leading to failure of the body`s temperature control system. Many of our county employees work outside and following a few simple precautions can help you avoid a serious heat injury.

1. Hydrate yourself: Dehydration is the major cause of heat injuries, so make sure you are drinking plenty of water. You need to drink at regular intervals even when you don’t feel thirsty. Cool, non-alcoholic and non-caffeinated beverages are a good substituted. Add a few pieces of fruit to the cooler for a little extra flavor. Lemons, limes cherries, kiwi or strawberries will work well.

2. Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages or alcohol: Dehydration is a major cause of heat exhaustion and these drinks do the same. These can act as a diuretic, which moves fluids out of the body too quickly.

3. Choose the right clothing: One should always dress according to the weather. In such hot weather conditions it is advisable to wear loose-fitting, light-colored cotton clothes which breathes and allows your sweat to evaporate. Avoid wearing dark clothing if you`re in the sun because we all know that they absorb heat and that can be harmful for your body. Light-colored clothing can help keep you cool by reflecting the sun`s rays.

4. Stay out of the sun: Try to work in the shade where ever possible. Bring shade with you where practical. Limit the time you are working in direct sun and allow for cool down periods. Wear wide brim hats our other head covering.

5. Use a sunscreen: Apply sunscreen to exposed areas of the skin. Avoid getting sunburned because, well, it hurts and second because it prevents the skin from sweating efficiently. Sweating is a natural function our bodies do to regulate internal temperature. Finally, you won’t have to wonder where the strange shaped moles are coming from in 20 years. Use a sunscreen with a minimum of 15 SPF (sun protection factor) when outside.

6. Plan your activity: Do the tasks which require the most physical exertion earlier in the morning before 11 am . Save the lighter tasks for when it is hottest.