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Overheating: Know the signs, know the treatment

Many North Carolinians think of summer as the carefree season of rest and relaxation. For most laborers, however, the season has very different connotations.

Summer is an exceedingly dangerous time for workers. Heat-related illnesses (HRI) pose a constant threat, especially if you perform physical labor outdoors. Experiencing an HRI can temporarily or permanently damage your ability to earn a living.

Recognizing heat-related illnesses

The temperature outside does not have to be extremely high for someone to suffer a heat-related illness. There are several forms of HRI. Their severity can range from mild to life-threatening. Some of the most common types include:

  • Heat stroke
  • Exhaustion
  • Dehydration
  • Heat rash

Although these conditions are very different, they share many symptoms. The signs to watch out for include:

  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Thirst
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Flushed skin
  • Profuse sweating
  • High body temperature

If you or one of your coworkers exhibits these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately. Try drink cool fluids, remove yourself from the hot environment and find a cool place to sit and rest.

What to do after a heat-related illness at work

If you should experience heat stroke or another HRI on the job, there is an important process to follow. First, get the treatment that you need from a medical provider. The, report your illness to your supervisor – act quickly, because you have a limit of 30 days to report an injury or illness. Your employer will probably have you fill out paperwork detailing the nature of the work you were performing, your location and your symptoms.