Heat illness can be deadly. On July 23rd the tree care industry lost another worker, this time from heat stroke. With this year’s exceptionally warm weather, we want to remind you of the danger signs, and steps you should take to prevent heat-related health issues. The body typically cools itself by sweating. However, while working in extreme heat, sweating may not be sufficient to keep your core temperature in a safe range.
To prevent heat-related illnesses, you should work in the shade when possible, drink lots of water and take periodic rest breaks. If you stop sweating, stop working immediately and cool down.
Body temperature can rise quickly and cause life-threatening illnesses like heat exhaustion or heat stroke. One of the first signs of heat related illness is heat rash and heat cramps.
If you start experiencing a sudden rash or severe muscle cramps, you are entering the danger zone for heat-related health issues. This is a key indicator that your core temperature is starting to rise and you should get cooled down. The next stages, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, both require immediate medical attention, so paying attention early can save your day and ultimately your life.
If you or a coworker are feeling weak, have clammy skin, a racing pulse or nauseous feeling, you are experiencing heat exhaustion. Medical attention should be sought right away. If you’re in a tree, get down. You don’t want to have to be rescued when you progress to the point of unconsciousness.
If your skin or a coworker’s skin is hot or wet, temperature is high, pulse is rapid or consciousness is lost, heat stroke is in full force and the person requires emergency medical attention. This is when 911 is called and, if the person suffering heat stroke is in the tree, it is time to perform an aerial rescue. Time is of the essence so know the symptoms and react.
Everyone knows that tree work is tough. At the end of the day, everyone should go home to their families. You don’t run your truck without coolant or when the engine temperature spikes. Don’t push your body further than you would push your truck. The results can be deadly.