Canadian summers can see temperatures soar into the high 30s in degrees Celsius. And that’s without the humidex factor, which can take us into the mid-40s! There’s no denying that Canadian summers are hot, but are they dangerous? They can be. When the temperature rises, the risk for heat exhaustion and heatstroke does too.
Know the Difference
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are two different ailments. Heat exhaustion usually precedes heatstroke. Signs of heat exhaustion include:
- Cool, moist skin
- Feeling faint, dizzy, or fatigued
- Having a weak but rapid pulse
- Muscle cramps
Heatstroke, or sunstroke, is a more serious condition. It usually results from heat exhaustion that was ignored, went unnoticed, or was left untreated. Signs of heatstroke include:
- A high body temperature of 104 degrees or greater
- An altered mental state, confusion
- Hot, dry skin
- Nausea or vomiting
- Flushed skin
- Rapid breathing
- Increased heart rate
The key difference between heat exhaustion and heatstroke is that heat exhaustion is accompanied by sweat. When heatstroke sets in, sweating ceases.
Everyone is at Risk
While everyone is at risk when it’s hot, some are more vulnerable to heatstroke and heat exhaustion, such as:
- Young people under four years of age
- People over the age of 65
- People with obesity
- Those with underlying medical conditions
- People taking certain medications
Heat exhaustion and heatstroke can happen at any time. Whether you’re sitting on the beach soaking up the sun, at home digging in the garden, or at work. Employers must remain aware that employees are at risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke, especially those who work outside, or those who work in non-temperature-controlled settings, such as factories or kitchens.
Preventing Heat Exhaustion
Prevent heat exhaustion and heatstroke, at work, at play, and at home, by ensuring that you stay hydrated when the temperature rises. As well, employers should allow for cooling breaks as frequently as every hour for employees who work outdoors or in hot factories and kitchens.
Loose-fitting lightweight clothes are the best option, and sunhats are recommended. Whether you’re working or relaxing, try to take it easy during the hottest time of the day, between 1:00 pm and 5:00 pm.
Providing First Aid
Knowing the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion is the key to preventing heatstroke. When heat exhaustion is addressed quickly, heatstroke can be prevented.
If you suspect someone is suffering from heat exhaustion, offer the following first aid:
- Move the person into the shade or inside to an air conditioned space
- Have the person lay down on their back, and elevate their feet and legs slightly
- Remove any heavy clothing
- Provide water to drink – in the absence of water another cool, non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated drink will do
- Cool the person using sprays or sponges
If symptoms do not improve, consider calling a doctor for a medical assessment. Continue to monitor the person. If they continue to deteriorate, call 911. As well, call 911 immediately if any of the following occur:
- Temperature rises above 104 degrees
- Person becomes confused or agitated
- Person experiences a seizure
- Inability to drink
Whenever in doubt, consult medical professionals.
Best Safety Training Can Help
Best Safety Training offers First Aid Training. We also offer an online course in Heat Stress Awareness for your safety and convenience. Let the Best Safety Training company take care of your training needs.
To ask questions, contact us online or call 226.777.7385. Visit us 24/7 on the web at bestsafetytraining.ca.