Before temperatures begin to climb to three-digit highs, ADOSH (Arizona Division of Occupational Safety and Health) is urging employers and their employees to keep some important safety tips in mind to avoid succumbing to heat-related illnesses.
Jessie Atencio, acting director at ADOSH, said that for construction and agricultural workers who are required to work in hot environments, keeping cool can prove difficult.
“When the body is unable to cool itself by sweating, several heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and the more severe heat stroke can occur, and can ultimately result in death. We've all seen the stories about people suffering from heat exhaustion while working or while enjoying recreational activities. Fortunately, heat illnesses can be avoided by keeping heat safety at the forefront of our summer months' activities.”
ADOSH representatives have been traveling across the state as part of their annual heat campaign to remind people of how to keep safe from the heat and what symptoms to look out for.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion, which some may wave off as a simple headache or just being tired or hungry, include headaches, dizziness, weakness, moist skin, mood changes, dark-colored urine, heart palpitations and an upset stomach.
More serious heat strokes can cause dry, hot skin with no sweating, mental confusion, seizures or convulsions and fainting.
Both can lead to death, said Atencio.
Being aware of the symptoms is just the beginning, he said.
Tips for avoiding any form of heat-related illness this summer include:
• Block out direct sun or other heat sources.
• Use cooling fans/air-conditioning.
• Rest regularly, preferably in the shade.
• Drink lots of water even if you aren't thirsty (about 1 cup every 15 minutes).
• Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothes and hats.
• Avoid alcohol, caffeinated drinks and heavy meals.
“If you or a friend or co-worker is having any heat-related symptoms, it's important to get to a cool, shaded area, loosen clothing and provide cool drinking water,” he said. “If necessary, call 911, and keep the person as comfortable as possible while waiting for medical assistance to arrive.”
During the upcoming months, Atencio said it is important to remind not only ourselves, but also friends and co-workers of these simple steps that can be taken.
For more information, printable materials and free outreach and training resources, visit the ICA (Industrial Commission of Arizona) website at www.ica.state.az.us/ or call 1-602-542-4653. Also visit www.youtube.com/user/AzOccupationalSafety to view safety videos in English and Spanish.
Sarah Womer can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6858. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSSarahWomer or on Twitter at @YSSarahWomer.