Tips to stay safe in the heat

With the hot summer weather upon us, heat related issues can sneak up on people who work outdoors, especially farmers who may not have access to shade or air conditioning to cool down.

Heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are the three types of heat illnesses that you may be at risk of if you don't notice the warning signs and symptoms. The first two types, while less serious than heat stroke, are still very dangerous and should be remedied quickly. Heat cramps, the least dangerous type, are painful cramping of muscles that occurs during exercise or work in hot environments. According to the Mayo Clinic website they are more intense and last longer than the average night cramps. Below is a list of remedies:

  • Drink fluids including water or sports drinks to rehydrate
  • Get to a cool environment
  • Stretch and/or massage the area gently

Heat exhaustion is a more serious condition that comes after heat cramping, and is the inability of the body to cool itself down in hot, humid weather.  Factors contributing to heat exhaustion include dehydration, alcohol use and wearing too many clothes for the temperature. Symptoms can include profuse sweating, dizziness/fainting, nausea/fatigue and cool, clammy skin. Headaches and a weak pulse can also be symptoms. Heat exhaustion is treated the same as heat cramps, but also remedies include:

  • Cool the body by misting with cool water or a shower
  • Loosen tight fitting clothing to allow the skin to breathe

If any symptoms of heat cramps or exhaustion persist for more than an hour, get prompt medical attention to avoid a more serious condition such as heat stroke.

Related Michigan State University (MSU) Extension News article: Recognize the signs of heat stroke before it's too late

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