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Heat Stroke Awareness

As warmer and longer days are with us now we are spending more time outside either working or enjoying leisure activities. Since we are outdoors more and active in warmer temperatures we need to be aware of the threat of Heat Stroke.

Heat stroke or hyperthermia occurs when the human body has a temperature above 104 degrees F; the normal average temperature is 98.6 degrees F. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are the results of the inability of the human body to properly cool itself.

The major causes of heat stroke are prolonged exposure to high temperatures and performing strenuous activities in hot weather conditions. As construction workers we are exposed to this during our daily activities on new or remodel sites and during evenings or weekends enjoying leisure or home improvement activities.

Signs of possible heat stroke include: headaches, muscle cramps, a noticeable change in mood or behavior, a rapid pulse and rapid breathing and dizziness. When heat stroke occurs a person will stop sweating and their skin color generally turns red. Symptoms of heat stroke include confusion, seizures, hallucinations and a loss of consciousness. If not treated heatstroke can cause organ failure, coma and possibly death. If heat stroke occurs, call 911 and move the person to a cool and shaded area and use water, wet towels or icepacks to cool their body, removing extra clothing will also help to cool the body.

To avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke some simple precautions are advised: Wear light colored, loose fitting clothing. Stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of water or sports drinks like Gatorade. Avoid beverages containing alcohol or caffeine since these tend to draw water out of the body. Avoid hot, sun exposed areas if possible and if possible avoid activities during the hottest part of the day. Be aware that prescription and over the counter medications can have a major effect on how the human body reacts to heat. If weakness, muscle cramps or profuse sweating occurs, take a break and cool off.

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