Heat Stress Symptoms and Prevention: Safety Topics - May 2019 Week 3


Safety Topics for 5-Minute Toolbox Talks

Week 21: May 20-24, 2019

Heat Stress Preparation for Summer

image of sunburn and white sandal straps on skin of feet and anklesThe summer months are upon us, which means we are starting to look forward to long hours of outside activities, both recreational and work related.  Remember that as the outside temperature rises our bodies have to work harder to cool themselves.  If we do not take proper precautions, we can end up with serious heat injuries!

Monday, May 20


  • Caused by exposure of skin to direct sunlight
  • Results in red, warm skin which can blister and cause moderate to severe pain
  • Decreases skin’s efficiency in heat elimination
  • Prevent by applying and re-applying sunscreen

Sunburn Treatment:

  • Use cool water
  • Apply moisturizing lotion or aloe
  • Stay hydrated
  • Do not break blisters if present

Heat Rash – Prickly Heat

  • Occurs when sweat cannot freely evaporate from skin and clogs glands
  • Appears as clusters of itchy bumps on the skin
  • Usually caused by wearing restrictive clothing and inadequate hygiene
  • Prevent by keeping skin dry and bathing regularly

Heat Rash Treatment:

  • Use cool water then keep area dry

Tuesday, May 21

Heat Cramps

  • Painful cramping of the larger muscle groups (Legs, arms, abdomen, etc.)
  • Caused by excessive loss of salt through heavy sweating plus several hours of sustained exertion
  • Can be the first sign of worsening heat-related injuries


  • Painful muscle spasms
  • Abnormal body posture
  • Grasping affected area


  • Rest in a shaded, cool area
  • Drink a sports beverage and/or eat salted foods
  • Massage area to increase circulation 
  • If cramping is severe or unwavering, seek medical attention

Wednesday, May 22

Heat Exhaustion – Now it’s getting serious!  

  • Mild form of shock caused when the circulatory system fails as a result of the body’s inadequate effort to give off excessive heat
  • Although not an immediate threat to life, if not properly treated, may evolve into heat stroke
  • Caused by an excessive loss of water and salt through sweat


  • Heavy sweating with clammy, moist, pale skin
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Headache, dizziness, lightheadedness, fainting
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Mood change, irritability


  • Move to a cooler location
  • Lie down and loosen clothes
  • Raise legs
  • Apply cool, wet cloths to as much of the body as possible
  • If possible, take a cool shower or bath
  • Drink small amounts of water
  • Seek medical attention if not improving 

Thursday, May 23

Heat Stroke – Now it’s critical!

  • Severe and sometimes fatal condition resulting from the failure of the body to regulate core temperature
  • The body’s normal cooling mechanisms stop functioning and stops sweating to conserve water
  • This is a serious medical emergency that requires immediate medical attention.


  • No sweat
  • Rapid pulse and breathing
  • Mental confusion or lack of consciousness
  • Convulsions
  • Hot, red, and dry skin
  • Body temperature ≥ 105°F 


  • Call 911
  • Move person to a cooler environment
  • Lay them down
  • Remove or loosen clothing
  • Cool: fan, wet cloths, ice packs
  • Massage large muscles

Friday, May 24

Discuss personal experiences with heat injury

Take a moment to share any personal experiences you have had with heat injury. Reflect on the symptoms associated with the different levels of heat injuries we discussed this week.  Have you ever experienced heat exhaustion or early stages of heat stroke?  What precautions do you take to prevent heat injury? 

Tags: safety topics , injury prevention , weather ,

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