Four Levels of Heat-Related Illness
Western Australia is always hot during the summer. Add a heat wave on top of that, and it’s nothing short of dangerous. When going to work means ‘out of the frying pan and into the fire’, the health implications can be serious. As a whole, these problems are usually referred to as ‘heat stress’ or ‘heat illness’, and the West Australia government gives some information and advice on their Worksafe website. Here’s a quick break-down: four types of heat-related illness roughly in order of severity.
1. Prickly Heat (Heat Rashes) and Heat-Related Discomfort
Prickly heat is another name for heat rash, and it can be an early—and annoying—sign of heat-related illness. With a heat rash, you may experience a hot, flushed feeling in your skin and excessive sweating. You’re uncomfortably hot, and it’s starting to affect your body.
2. Heat Cramps and Mild Heat Illness
Mild heat illness has clear symptoms, if you’re paying attention, and this is definitely a good time to take action. Watch out for sleepiness, moments of dizziness or muscle fatigue, poor concentration, irritability and of course, muscle cramps. It’s time to take a break and cool down.
3. Heat Exhaustion
The symptoms of heat exhaustion include headaches, nausea, clammy or flushed skin, fainting and low blood pressure, which can manifest as dizziness and poor concentration. If you or a coworker is experiencing heat exhaustion, then you need to stop any physical exertion and take a break in a cool area with a glass of water or a sports drink immediately.
4. Heat Stroke
Heat Stroke is the most serious illness that can be brought on solely by heat exposure. It can end in unconsciousness or even death. Symptoms include confusion, problems with speech, convulsions, a loss of consciousness and an internal temperature greater than 40C. It can bring on a heart attack in an otherwise healthy person, so if you see the symptoms of heat stroke in a coworker, then get them out of the heat, get them water or an energy drink and call for medical assistance immediately.
Of course, there are ways to reduce your risk of experiencing heat related health problems like these. First, stay well hydrated, and that means chiefly with water and/or electrolyte-containing sports drinks. Avoid anything alcoholic or caffeinated. Alcohol and caffeine both cause dehydration rather than helping to relieve it. Second, make sure that you’re in an air conditioned environment as much as possible, and if you work outdoors or in an area that can’t be air conditioned, then make sure you always have easy access to a cool room.
Lyons Air Conditioning can help create the safe spaces you need in a hot workplace. We are a family owned business that specialises in automotive air conditioning and mobile air conditioning for the shipping, mining and construction industries in Perth and throughout WA. Let us help you and your people stay cool and safe.