Objective: To be able to identify symptoms of heat stroke and exhaustion, and know the emergency procedures for both.
Heat stress is a buildup of body heat generated either internally by muscle use or externally by the environment Heat exhaustion and heat stroke result when the body is overwhelmed by heat. As the heat increases, body temperature and the heart rate rise painlessly. An increase in body temperature of two degrees Fahrenheit can affect mental functioning. A five degree Fahrenheit increase can result in serious illness or death. During hot weather, heat illness may be an underlying cause of other types of injuries, such as heart attacks, falls and equipment accidents.
The most serious heat related illness is heat stroke. The symptoms are confusion, irrational behavior, convulsions, coma, and death. While over 20% of heat stroke victims die regardless of health or age, children seem to be more susceptible to heat strain than adults. In some cases, the side effects of heat stroke are heat sensitivity and varying degrees of brain and kidney damage.
Preventing heat stress will:
• Protect Health - Heat illness is preventable and treatable before it is life threatening.
• Improve Safety - Any heat stress can impair functioning.
• Increase Productivity - People work slower and less efficiently when they are suffering from heat stress.
Coaches, players and parents all have an essential role to play in preventing heat stress. Each member of the team should use good judgment to prevent heat related illness. A heat stress control program should protect all players, from those who can play comfortably in heat to those in poor physical shape.
Key elements for controlling heat stress are:
• Drink generous amounts of water every 15 to 30 minutes worked, depending on the heat and humidity. This is the best way to replace lost body fluid.
• Read medication lables to know how cause the body to react to the sun and heat.
• Avoid alcohol and drugs as they can increase the effects of heat.
• Build up tolerance for working in the heat. Heat tolerance is normally built up over a
one to two week time period.
• Take breaks to cool down. A 10 - 15 minute break every two hours is effective.
• Adapt work and pace to the weather.
• Provide heat stress training to workers and supervisors.
• Manage work activities and match them to employees’ physical condition.
• Use special protective gear, such as cooling garments and cooling
vests on “early entry” workers.
• Know heat stress first aid techniques.
Heat stroke first aid:
• Move the victim to a cool place. Remove heavy clothing; light clothing
can be left in place.
• Immediately cool the victim by any available means. Such as placing
ice packs at areas with abundant blood supply (neck, armpits, and
groin). Wet towels or sheets are also effective. The cloths should be
kept wet with cool water.
• To prevent hypothermia continue cooling the victim until their temperature
drops to 102 degrees Fahrenheit.
• Keep the victim's head and shoulders slightly elevated.
• Seek medical attention immediately. All heat stroke victims need hospitalization.
• Care for seizures if they occur.
• Do not use aspirin or acetaminophen.
Heat exhaustion first aid:
• Move the victim to a cool place.
• Keep the victim lying down with legs straight and elevated 8-12 inches.
• Cool the victim by applying cold packs or wet towels or cloths. Fan the victim.
• Give the victim cold water if he or she is fully conscious.
• If no improvement is noted within 30 minutes, seek medical attention.
Review The Following Points:
• Heat stress is serious and should be handled as such.
• As strain from heat increases, body temperature and heart rate can rise rapidly.
• Exposure to heat can be serious to children and adults.
• Have plenty of liquids available and administer first aid as needed.
Heat Stress Self-Test:
1. The illness caused by heat stress is very real. T F
2. Heat stress may result from the buildup of muscle generated heat in the body.T F
3. Exposure to heat stress is not a problem with children. T F
4. The most serious heat related illness is heat stroke. T F
5. Over 20% of those who suffer a heat stroke die. T F
True or False Answer Key
1. T, 2. T, 3. F, 4. T, 5. T