Two of the minor heat related disorders are sunburn and heat rash.
Sunburn is caused by excessive exposure of skin to the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Too much sun can cause a first degree burn consisting of red, painful skin. Wear lightweight clothing to cover your skin and use a sun screen lotion, spray, gel or other topical product on exposed skin. And remember to reapply the sun screen regularly, throughout the day.
Heat rash is the generic group name for a number of skin problems that arise or worsen because of heat exposure or overheating. Heat rash usually appears as very small pinpoint bumps at the entrances to small hair follicles. Skin may feel prickly or itchy, in some areas there may be red or pink patches of skin. Ointments are available to treat and soothe the rash area. The condition is usually self-limited and resolves in hours to a few days without treatment.
There are three kinds of major heat related disorders: heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. You need to know how to recognize each one, and what first aid treatment is necessary:
Heat cramps are painful, involuntary muscle spasms that usually occur in the arms or legs, during heavy work or exercise in hot environments. They are often caused by inadequate fluid intake. Move into the shade, loosen clothing, and restore fluids and electrolytes. Heat cramps are usually self-limited and go away on their own. If the cramping does not subside with rest and rehydration, seek medical help.
Heat exhaustion is a more serious condition. Possible signs and symptoms are many and may include: cool, moist skin with goose bumps when in the heat; heavy sweating; faintness; dizziness; fatigue; weak, rapid pulse; low blood pressure upon standing; muscle cramps; nausea; headache. Move to a cooler place, stop all activity and rest. Drink cool water or sports drinks. Call 911 if your signs or symptoms worsen or if they don’t improve within 60 minutes. Seek immediate medical attention if your body temperature reaches 104 F (40 C) or higher.
Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition! Heat stroke is an escalation of heat cramps and heat exhaustion. Signs include high body temperature (104 F (40 C) or higher); hot, dry skin; weakness; and rapid pulse and breathing. The victim may lose consciousness. Heat stroke can cause seizures, convulsions, or even death. There’s no time to lose! Have a co-worker call for medical help immediately. Lay the victim down with head and shoulders slightly elevated. Cool them as quickly as possible. Use the water and ice in a jobsite cooler if no other source of cold water is available. Treat the victim for shock.
Heat stroke can be prevented if you receive medical attention or take self-care steps as soon as you notice problems!
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