Hot Times in the Summer

clip art image of sweating sunPreventing heat stress is important. Over the past 12 years, almost half of the worker’s compensation physical hazard cases reported at UW-Madison were heat-related illnesses! It helps if you can avoid exposure to extreme heat, direct sun, and high humidity when possible. When these conditions cannot be avoided, take the following steps to prevent heat stress:

  • Wear light-colored, loose-fitting, breathable clothing.
  • Gradually build up to heavy work.
  • Schedule heavy work during the coolest parts of day.
  • Take more breaks in a shaded or a cool area if possible.
  • Drink enough water that you never become thirsty.  
  • Avoid drinks with caffeine, alcohol, and lots of sugar.
  • Be aware that protective clothing or PPE may increase the risk of heat stress.
  • Very important--monitor your physical condition and that of your coworkers.

People who are exposed to extreme heat or work in hot environments may be at risk of heat-related illness such as, heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, or heat rashes as the outside temperatures and humidity rise. Keep in mind the following:

  • One of the common early signs of heat-related illness is confusion or dizziness.
  • Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related disorder. Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not given.
  • Call 911, get medical attention!

The heat index table shows the effect of combining heat and humidity and clearly shows the increased danger zones. 

Heat Index chart

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides additional information about the different heat-related illnesses, symptoms and first aid or medical measures that should be taken if you recognize symptoms of heat-related illness. Take care and enjoy your summer.

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