How to Keep Your Cool

Working in hot environments is tough enough without having to worry about safety, too. But it’s important to know the dangers excessive heat poses.

Heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are serious risks. Heat can also make you inattentive, short-tempered, dizzy or slow. Any of these effects may expose you to additional dangers.

Heat stress is caused by the weather or by working in hot environments, like laundry facilities or foundries. Humidity compounds the effects of heat.

Here are some warning signs of heat-related illness:

  • Heat cramps. These cramps usually affect arms, legs and abdominal muscles. They may happen even after you have stopped working or when you are resting. Heat cramps are a warning that your body has lost too much salt through sweating.
  • Heat exhaustion. Look for any or all of these symptoms: Exhaustion, nausea, dizziness, paleness and clammy skin, quick pulse and/or low blood pressure. Heat exhaustion is a warning that the mechanism that controls body heat is seriously overtaxed. Heat stroke may follow if heat exhaustion is not treated.
  • Heat stroke can be fatal. It happens when a body’s heat control mechanism simply shuts down. Perspiration stops and body temperature rises. The heart pounds and the skin is flushed and hot. This is a medical emergency and must be treated immediately.


Here are some ideas for keeping your cool this summer:

  • When hot weather hits, expect to feel sluggish for a few days until your body adjusts. Gradually get used to working in the heat.
  • Alter work routines to reduce heavy exertion in the hottest part of the day.
  • Take frequent rest breaks. Breaks may include moving to a cooler area or switching to less strenuous work for a while.
  • Drink water often to avoid dehydration. Your body loses water through perspiration, so replenish fluids frequently.
  • Don’t drink alcoholic or caffeinated beverages. They make your body lose even more water and salt.
  • Dress lightly in layers so that you can subtract or add clothing as the temperature changes.
  • Be sure to shade your skin and eyes from the sun. Remind coworkers to protect themselves from UV rays by covering up, wearing sunglasses and using sunscreen.
  • Watch your buddy or coworkers for signs of heat illness. Mild cases can be treated by moving a person to a cool area and giving them water to drink. If you suspect heat stroke, get immediate medical help.

The US Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center website has articles, posters, videos and other tools focusing on summer topics and many others. Visit:


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