Working Outside: How to Beat the Summer Heat


While it’s great to enjoy the fresh air when working outdoors, outside work can be hazardous—and even fatal—during the strong heat of the summer.

Workers are at risk for a variety of heat-related illnesses. It’s important to know the warning signs and what to do if you or one of your workers begins to show symptoms of a heat-related illness.

Heat exposure causes many illnesses, such as:

  • Heat edema: a swelling that occurs among people not used to working in the heat
  • Heat rashes: Tiny red spots on the skin that cause a prickling sensation when exposed to heat
  • Heat cramps: Sharp pains in the muscles that happen alone or with other heat stress disorders
  • Heat exhaustion: Caused by loss of body water and salt through excessive sweating
  • Heat syncope: Heat-induced dizziness and fainting induced by temporarily insufficient flow of blood to the brain
  • Heat stroke: Most serious heat illness, requiring immediate first aid and medical attention

Signs to be aware of for heat stroke include confusion, loss of consciousness, seizures, very high body temperature, and hot, dry skin or profuse sweating.

If someone appears to be suffering from heat stroke, call for medical help immediately. Also, move them to a shady location and apply cold, wet cloths to their skin. Remove some clothing and wet the person’s skin and clothing with cool water. Don’t force the person to drink liquids.

Learn more from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety here.

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