According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heat-related illnesses kill more than 600 people in the United States each year and injure thousands. High temperatures can be especially dangerous to vulnerable groups such as older adults, people with chronic medical conditions, infants and children, low-income households, athletes and outdoor workers such as those in the construction industry.
Heat-related injuries and deaths are preventable, and the personal injury attorneys at Dale E. Anstine remind everyone to do their part to stay safe during the peak summer months of heat and sun. Protect your loved ones by recognizing the signs of heat illnesses and knowing what to do with these tips:
Heatstroke is the most severe heat-related illness and can lead to death. Essentially, heatstroke occurs when the body fails to sweat, and the internal temperature rises. Vital organs begin to “cook” causing hot skin, altered mental state, seizures, dizziness, nausea and loss of consciousness. The CDC recommends the following actions if someone is suffering from heatstroke:
- Call 911 immediately. Heatstroke is a serious medical condition.
- Move the person to a cooler place.
- Help lower the person’s temperature with cool cloths or a cool bath.
Heat exhaustion occurs when the body loses excessive amounts of salt and water and happens most often in athletes and outdoor workers. Heat exhaustion can be a precursor to heat stroke if not addressed quickly.
Symptoms include heavy sweating, cold or pale skin, muscle cramps, tiredness or weakness, dizziness, headache and in some cases, loss of consciousness. If heat exhaustion is suspected, move to a cool place and loosen the person’s clothes. In addition, sip water and put cool wet clothes on the body to help reduce the internal temperature. Seek medical help right away if:
- You are vomiting.
- Your symptoms get worse.
- Your symptoms last longer than one hour.
Heat cramps are often overlooked and thought of as more of a nuisance than a real health issue or concern. However, heat cramps are often the earliest warning signs that the body cannot control its temperature because of the heat. Heat cramps are preventable and avoidable, as are most heat-related illnesses, by following these guidelines:
- Drink plenty of water before, during and after exposure to heat. This is especially important for athletes and outdoor workers.
- Take frequent breaks from the sun and heat. Find shade and rest for several minutes before restarting the task/job or rejoining the activity.
- Wear protective clothing to prevent injuries from the sun. Wide-brimmed hats offer immediate shade, and clothing that is made with lighter, cooler fabrics can help keep the body cool.
As summer approaches and we head in to the hottest months of the year, remember to take preventative measures to keep cool and hydrated, especially when working outside. Employers can ensure workplace safety by offering ways for employees to stay cool.
If you have been injured on the job as a result of a heat-related illness, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. To discuss your options, get an experienced accident and workers’ comp attorney on your side to protect your rights. Reach out to Dale E. Anstine today to learn more. With offices in York and Gettysburg, our team is proud to protect the injured across the Central Pennsylvania community. Consultations are always free, we’re available 24/7, and there’s no fee unless we win for you.