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Heat-related illnesses can cause serious conditions or death as a person’s natural cooling mechanisms may not be able to keep up with the temperature. It’s essential for workers in the agriculture sector to be familiar with the signs and symptoms of heat illnesses and techniques to prevent them, especially during the hot summer months.
Types of Heat-related Illnesses
In addition to sunburns and heat rash, there are several types of heat-related illnesses, including:
- Heat cramps—These consist of muscle pain or spasms. Heavy sweating may also occur. Individuals suffering from heat cramps must stop physical activity, move to a cool place, and hydrate with water or a sports drink. Medical personnel should be contacted if the cramps last more than one hour or if the affected individual is on a low-sodium diet or has heart problems.
- Heat exhaustion—This can occur when an individual doesn’t intake enough fluids during hot weather. Signs of this illness include heavy sweating, dizziness, headache, fainting, weakness or tiredness, cramps and nausea or vomiting. An affected person may also exhibit cold, pale and clammy skin and a fast or weak pulse. If an individual displays the symptoms of heat exhaustion, they need to sip water, loosen their clothes and move to a cool place while cool, wet cloths are placed on their body. Medical personnel must be called immediately if the person is vomiting or if their symptoms worsen or last longer than one hour.
- Heat stroke—If heat exhaustion is not treated, it can lead to heat stroke, a medical emergency that can cause permanent disability or death. Symptoms of heat stroke include hot, dry, red or damp skin and a body temperature of 103 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, as well as headache, dizziness, confusion, nausea and dizziness. The affected individual may also have a fast, strong pulse and may be passing out. If these signs are present, 911 must be called immediately and the person needs to be moved to a cooler location. Cool cloths or a cool bath can also help lower their body temperature. Due to their altered state of consciousness during a heat stroke, it may not be safe for them to drink liquid.
Heat Illness Prevention Tips
There are several techniques to help prevent the above heat-related illnesses, including the following:
- Ease into work and follow the 20% rule. According to OSHA, nearly 3 out of 4 heat illness fatalities occur during the first week of work. Easing into work allows workers to build a tolerance to heat. The 20% rule allows for needed acclimatization by permitting no more than 20% of the first day’s shift to be at full intensity in the heat. The time at full intensity then may not be increased by more than 20% a day until the workers are used to the hot conditions.
- Hydrate. Workers need to hydrate before their shift and continue to drink water or electrolyte-rich beverages even when they are not thirsty. Alcoholic and caffeinated drinks should be avoided.
- Rest. It is vital for employees to take breaks from the heat in cool or shady locations.
- Dress appropriately. Wearing proper attire, such as light-colored, breathable and loose-fitting clothing, can help reduce heat-related risks.
Knowing proper first aid and when to call emergency personnel can also improve safety. For more information, contact us today.
By Jennifer Outcelt, Creative Content Architect
Ah, finally, the warm embrace of the Alaskan sun! While it brings joy to our frozen hearts and some much-needed Vitamin D, it also brings many potential risks. But just like you put on a down coat to protect your skin from the harsh winter, so must you put on daily layer of sunscreen protect against harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. Let’s take a stroll (perhaps with a parasol?) through the history of sunscreen, exploring its development and the crucial role it plays in preventing cancer and other illnesses.
The quest for sun protection dates back centuries. Ancient civilizations instinctively sought ways to shield themselves from the sun’s scorching rays. While finding shade was always the simplest solution, it was not always the most practical for ancient people on the go. And since the umbrella hat would not be invented until 1880, alternative mobile sun shielding technologies were needed. Ancient Egyptians crafted primitive sunscreens using ingredients like rice bran and jasmine extract. In China, rice paste and white lead were employed, creating a pale complexion which doubled to symbolize social status through sun avoidance.
Fast forward to the 20th century, where brilliant minds began paving the way for modern sunscreen. In 1938, a Swiss chemist named Franz Greiter invented the world’s first commercial sunscreen, introducing the concept of Sun Protection Factor (SPF). However, it was not until the 1970s that sunscreen gained mainstream popularity and recognition for its vital role in safeguarding skin health.
With growing awareness of the link between sun exposure and health risks, the importance of sunscreen soared. Sunscreen formulations became more advanced, offering improved protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Research unveiled the direct correlation between unprotected sun exposure and skin cancer, prompting organizations like the American Cancer Society to advocate for regular sunscreen use.
The significance of sunscreen extends beyond preventing skin cancer. Prolonged exposure to UV radiation can lead to sunburn, premature aging, and eye damage, including cataracts. By applying sunscreen, individuals can shield themselves from these harmful effects and maintain healthier, more youthful-looking skin. Sunscreen also plays a crucial role in preventing other types of cancer. Lips, for instance, are susceptible to UV damage, making the use of lip balm or lip-specific sunscreens vital. Moreover, sunscreen protects against squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, and even melanoma— the most aggressive form of skin cancer. Any suspicious spots you find on your body (new or enlarging spots, larger than a pencil eraser head, irregular edges, discolored areas, scaly, etc.) should be looked at by a dermatologist.
With modern society fully aware of the importance of sunscreen (though some still choose to ignore it’s benefits), it is now an integral part of personal care as well as numerous industries. From lotions, clays, and sprays to gels and sticks, sunscreen has evolved to offer convenient and effective options for everyone. Outdoor workers, Lifeguards, athletes, and even children at schools and summer camps are encouraged to use sunscreen regularly. Moreover, clothing and accessories with built-in UV protection have become increasingly popular, providing an extra layer of defense against harmful cancer-causing rays.
Sunscreen has come a long way from ancient concoctions to modern-day sun shields. Its historical development and the mounting evidence of its importance in preventing cancer and other illnesses have solidified its status as a must-have in our daily routines. Hopefully this shed some light on why you might not want so much light shed on your skin. So say it with me folks, “I Screen, You Screen, We All Screen with Sunscreen!”