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Heat Stress

You should become familiar with the following conditions in order to protect yourself and others in the event of a heat related emergency.


Heat Rash – Also known as Prickly Heat, occurs in hot, humid environments where sweat cannot easily evaporate from the skin.  This condition produces a rash, which in some cases causes severe pain.  Procedures to prevent or minimize this condition are resting frequently in a cool place, bathing regularly, and drying thoroughly.


Heat Cramps – Painful muscle spasms resulting from the loss of salt and electrolytes due to excessive sweating.  The cramps will usually affect the stomach, arms and legs.  This condition can be treated by drinking fluids containing electrolytes (calcium, sodium and potassium).


Heat Exhaustion – A state brought on by the loss of fluids during excessive sweating.  Individuals with heat exhaustion still sweat, but they experience extreme weakness and may even collapse.  They may experience nausea and headache.  Their skin is clammy and moist, their complexion is usually pale and the body temperature is usually normal or slightly higher.   This condition is best treated by taking the patient to a cool place, applying cool compresses, elevating the feet and giving the individual plenty of fluids.


Heat Stroke – A severe medical emergency, which could result in death.  Heat stroke results when the body’s core temperature gets too high and the body is no longer able to cool itself.  An individual suffering from heat stroke will have hot and dry skin, their pulse will be high and their blood pressure will fall.  The person may have irrational behavior, may be in a state of confusion or may become comatose. The body core temperature may exceed 104º F.  If not treated promptly, the core temperature will rise too high and death will follow.  This condition must be treated by immediately cooling the victim's body with water or wrapping them in cool wet sheets.

Heat Stress Prevention

Drink plenty of fluids with electrolytes, like Gatorade.

Eat properly - three meals a day.  Stay away from excessive fats and sugars.


Excessive heat strain may be marked by one of the following:

·        Sustained heart rate of 180bpm minus age, for those with normal cardiac performance;

·        Body core temperature greater than 101.3oF for acclimated personnel;

·        Body core temperature greater than 100.4oF for nonacclimated personnel;

·        One minute after peak performance, heart rate is greater than 110 beats per minute;

·        Symptoms of sudden or severe fatigue, nausea, dizziness, or lightheadedness.


An individual may be at greater risk if:

·        Profuse sweating is sustained over hours;

·        Weight loss over a shift is greater than 1.5% of body weight.