Operations Newsletter

July 2018

Heat Safety Tips

We are barely into July and temperatures are already hitting the century mark. With this in mind I wanted to share some tips for dealing with the hot weather. During a deployment we would be spending a lot of time outdoors; the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) offers these guidelines:

PEOPLE WHO WORK OUTDOORS ARE MORE LIKELY
TO BECOME DEHYDRATED AND GET HEAT-RELATED ILLNESS.

WARNING! If you feel faint or weak, STOP all activity and get to a cool place.

If you must work while it’s hot outside:

  • Drink plenty of water, and don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink.
  • Avoid alcohol or liquids containing large amounts of sugar.
  • Wear and reapply sunscreen as indicated on the package.
  • Ask if tasks can be scheduled for earlier or later in the day to avoid midday heat.
  • Wear a brimmed hat and loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Spend time in air-conditioned buildings during breaks and after work.
  • Encourage co-workers to take breaks to cool off and drink water.

Pace Yourself: Cut down on exercise during the heat. If you’re not accustomed to working or exercising in a hot environment, start slowly and pick up the pace gradually. If exertion in the heat makes your heart pound and leaves you gasping for breath, STOP all activity. Get into a cool area or into the shade, and rest, especially if you become lightheaded, confused, weak, or faint.

STAY HYDRATED

  • Drink Plenty of Fluids: Drink more fluids, regardless of how active you are. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
  • Warning: If your doctor limits the amount you drink or has you on water pills, ask how much you should drink while the weather is hot.
  • Stay away from very sugary or alcoholic drinks—these actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.
  • Replace Salt and Minerals: Heavy sweating removes salt and minerals from the body that need to be replaced. A sports drink can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat.

If you are on a low-salt diet, have diabetes, high blood pressure, or other chronic conditions,
talk with your doctor before drinking a sports beverage or taking salt tablets.

Learn how to spot heat-related illness Seek medical care immediately if you or a co-worker has symptoms of heat-related illness.

Extreme heat can be dangerous for anyone, but it can be especially dangerous for those with chronic medical conditions. If you or someone you know has a chronic medical condition, follow the information below to help keep you, or the people you work with, safe.

Caretaker Checklist

Keep a close eye on your fellow responders , and ask yourself these questions:

  • Are they drinking enough water?
  • Do they have access to air conditioning?
  • Are they taking frequent breaks?
  • Do they show any signs of heat stress?

Why are people with chronic medical conditions more vulnerable to extreme heat?

  • They may be less likely to sense and respond to changes in temperature.
  • They may be taking medications that can make the effect of extreme heat worse.
  • Conditions like heart disease, mental illness, poor blood circulation, and obesity* are risk factors for heat-related illness.

*Individuals who are overweight or obese tend to retain more body heat.

Stay Safe During Eextreme Heat

Follow tips on how to prevent heat-related illness.

  • Keep in mind that heavy sweating can remove salt and minerals from your body.
  • Talk to your doctor about how to safely replace salt and minerals lost through sweating.
  • Do not engage in very strenuous activities and get plenty of rest.
  • Pay special attention to those working the pits as they create extra heat as well as the folks working under tents, which can trap extra heat.

I know we all want to be superman during deployments, but if you overdo it or you will not be able to give your best. Don’t be afraid to tell someone you need a break! Taking a 10 minute break is much more efficient than having to go to the hospital.

Greg Powers BSN, RN
Kansas State Lead, Operation BBQ Relief

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