Heat Injury Prevention: Safety Topics - May 2019 Week 4


Monday, May 27

Beat the Heat – Prevention

Last week we discussed the different levels of heat injuries, this week we will discuss how to protect ourselves from them.

How the body responds to heat

The human body is a complex machine that needs to maintain a core temperature between 97.5-99.5°F by generating or dissipating heat.  Heat is produced by our bodies adjusting our metabolism and it is reduced using two methods:

  1. Circulation
    1. Heart rate rises and blood vessels dilate to bring more blood to the skin resulting in heat transfer out of the body.
    2. An increased heart rate stresses the body.
    3. Not very effective when the outside temperature is higher than your body temperature.
  2. Sweating
    1. The skin leeches water and salt to the surface and heat is transferred through evaporation.
    2. Efficiency of sweating is lost in high humidity.

Our body reacts to our environment to regulate its core temperature by heat loss. These, along with other measures, show that more energy is used and water is lost in the process. This is why we need to prepare ourselves for our time working or playing in the heat. 

Tuesday, May 28

Water - Part 1

Water is one of the most important elements we need for survival.  In fact, while we can live for weeks without food, our bodies can only last for a couple days without water.


  • Regulates body temperature
  • Moistens tissues, mouth, eyes, and nose
  • Lubricates joints
  • Dissolves nutrients for better absorption
  • Carries nutrients, oxygen, hormones, and antibodies throughout the body
  • Acts as a shock absorber to protect internal organs
  • Lessens burden on kidneys and liver to eliminate waste
  • Prevents constipation


  • Occurs when more fluid is lost than absorbed
  • Body lacks water to carry out its normal functions
  • 75% of people are dehydrated and don’t know
  • Dehydration levels are measured based off of the percentage of body weight lost
    • Mild – Less than 5% weight loss (you won’t get thirsty until you reach 2%)
    • Moderate – 5-10% weight loss
    • Severe - >10% weight loss (requires immediate medical attention)
    • 1 pound lost = two 8-ounce glasses of water

Signs of Dehydration:

  • Thirst
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of Concentration
  • Weakness
  • Cramps
  • Nausea
  • Dark Urine

Wednesday, May 29

Water - Part 2

Water is lost through sweat, breathing, and using the bathroom.

How much water should you drink?

  • General rule of thumb – 8 glasses (8 oz)/day
  • Specifically – 50% Body weight = Number of ounces of water/day
  • Increase intake if you are in the heat or are participating in strenuous physical activities

Water alternatives for hydration:

  • Milk – contains proteins to keep you fueled
  • Fruit Juice – use 100% fruit juice as excess sugar dehydrates your body
  • Watermelon – 92% water
  • Sports Drinks – contain electrolytes
  • Fruit Infused Water – adds flavor without sugar

Avoid high sugars, caffeine, and alcohol found in:

  • Soda
  • Beer, wine, liquor
  • Hot cocoa
  • Coffee
  • Energy Drinks
  • Sweet Tea/Lemonade

Thursday, May 30

Remember Your Salts (Electrolytes)

Salt is a necessary ingredient for hydration and our bodies closely monitor the balance of salt and water within us.  Sodium, one of the key ingredients in salt, regulates blood flow, helps transmit messages between nerve and muscle fibers, and regulates the amount of water retained in individual cells. 

Maintaining the balance:

Generally, our salt intake comes from the food we eat.  The recommended daily allowance of sodium is 2,300mg per day which is the equivalent of one teaspoon of salt.  Aside from food, remember there are also drinks that are supplemented with electrolytes that provide your body with sodium.


Too much salt in our diets can lead to dehydration. On average we consume 3,400mg of salt per day, an amount well above the recommended daily allowance.  High levels of salt and water in our system cause our bodies to retain that water, which results in bloating. On the other hand, high levels of salt but low amounts of water cause our bodies to draw water from the cells in order to maintain the balance, resulting in dehydration.

Friday, May 31

Discuss personal experiences with heat injury

It’s not unusual to believe that the only ones who need to worry about heat injuries are people who work or spend lots of time in heat.  However, heat injuries can develop to anyone in any setting.  Take this time to discuss how you “Beat the Heat” when you’re outside, working or playing.

Tags: safety topics , injury prevention , personal home safety ,

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