Heat Illness – What is it and why do I care?

Under normal conditions, our body can cool itself by sweating. However, during hot and especially hot & humid conditions, sweating is simply not enough. During these extreme conditions, our body temperature can rise to extremely dangerous conditions and the result can be a heat illness. The illness types include:

  • Heat Stroke - the most serious, is caused by the failure of your body's internal functions to adequately regulate your core temperature. Untreated the worker will die.

  • Heat Exhaustion - the result of loss of fluid through sweating, when not enough fluids and/or salt has been taken.

  • Heat Cramps - the result of excess water but lack of replacement of body salt.

  • Fainting - can result when a worker is not acclimated to hot weather.

  • Heat Rash - can result where sweat is not easily evaporated from the skin.

A good indicator of how seriously the heat of the day should be taken is the Heat Index. The Heat Index, developed by the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, is a single value that takes into account both heat & humidity. It provides a better indication of how the weather will feel that day.

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