Climate change and extreme heat is one of the leading causes of weather-related deaths in the United States. This summer has seen dangerous heat waves develop across the entire country putting employees and individuals participating in out-door activities at risk for heat related illnesses. Once rare in much of the country, persistent extreme heat climate events are now increasingly common. This past July, for instance, has been logged as the world’s hottest month ever recorded.
Heat related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke can be life threatening. Life-threatening events can occur in relatively short timeframes as individuals often miss signs they’re too hot or dehydrated. As extreme heat and high humidity become more frequent, employers, school systems, and sponsors of outdoor events incur a higher level of responsibility to protect their workers, students and participants. .
Spotting Signs of Heat Related Illnesses
There are three main types of heat related illnesses:
Avoiding Heat Illness
An ounce of prevention can help avoid heat exhaustion and heatstroke. It is easier to prevent heat illness than to treat it once symptoms develop.
Mild heat emergencies can quickly escalate to severe heat exhaustion and heatstroke if left untreated. Left untreated, heatstroke can cause brain damage, organ failure, and death. It is therefore crucial to treat a heat related illness as soon as possible by helping an affected person cool down.
Avoid using ice and ice-cold water to avoid putting the person into shock
Put a Heat Illness Prevention Plan in place
Any organization having outdoor work or athletic events needs to address and protect workers and participants from heat illness, and take precautions and preventive measures including a well thought out heat illness prevention plan. The prevention plan should be in writing, must comply with state and local codes, explain how companies will respond to a heat event, detail emergency medical services, and ensure that, if there is a medical emergency, first responders are available and trained to quickly respond to an emergency.
Key elements of a Heat Illness Prevention Plan include:
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The contents of this article are for general informational purposes only and Risk Strategies Company makes no representation or warranty of any kind, express or implied, regarding the accuracy or completeness of any information contained herein. Any recommendations contained herein are intended to provide insight based on currently available information for consideration and should be vetted against applicable legal and business needs before application to a specific client.