By Chantal Blais
Special to Ottawa Construction News
Whether at work or at play, outdoor summertime heat can take its toll on you physically.
Your body is designed to cool itself by evaporation of water from the surface of the skin . . . that’s why we sweat. If anything interferes with this process, such as high humidity or heavy clothing, your body can overheat and cause symptoms such as headaches, nausea and eventually heat stroke.
Our tolerance levels for high heat and humidity are not the same. Those who are used to working in high heat will not suffer the effects to the same degree or be overcome as soon as those who spend more time inside air-conditioned buildings and cars. Adding strenuous exercise or work to the mix of high heat and humidity puts additional stress on your body’s cooling system.
When exposed to conditions of high heat and humidity, important points to remember are:
- Drink plenty of water before and during any exposure to high heat and humidity.
- Pace yourself and take frequent rest breaks in shady areas.
- Avoid drinking alcohol or drinks with caffeine.
- Know and react to symptoms of heat related problems.
Heat Stroke is a life threatening condition—seek medical attention immediately!
Symptoms of heat related illnesses include:
Dehydration: Thirst, irritability, fatigue, loss of performance, muscle cramps, nausea, vomiting;
Muscle cramps: There may not be a warning sign, Painful, involuntary muscle spasms;
Heat exhaustion: Headache, nausea, vomiting, weakness, dizziness, rapid pulse, profuse sweating or clammy skin;
Heat stroke: High body temperature, nausea, drowsiness, confusion/disorientation, irrational behaviour, collapse-coma.
During hot summer days make sure to drink plenty of water and take breaks as needed. Have a safe and healthy summer from all of Labor Tek Safety and Labor Tek Personnel!
Chantal Blais is Labor-Tek’s operation manager. For more information, see www.labortek.com.