Staying Safe in Extreme Heat
South Florida is extremely humid, which makes the air and the heat feel much hotter. For instance, if the temperature is 80°F with 85% humidity it will actually feel like 99°F!! Yikes!! This is why you should always take proper precaution while working outside. Rarely are there any deaths in FL due to heat but they do happen and heat related injuries are very common.
We understand that there are many people that are exposed to heat on the job whether indoor or outdoor. Outdoor jobs conducted in hot weather and direct sun, such as roofing work increases the risk of heat-related illness to the workers.
Every year, thousands of workers become sick from heat exposure, and some even die. These illnesses and deaths are preventable.
When working in a hot environment it is important to maintain a stable internal body temperature. The body must get rid of excess heat to maintain a stable internal temperature. It does this mainly through circulating blood to the skin and through sweating (Occupational Heat Exposure, n.d.).
When the body cannot get rid of excess heat, it will store it. If this happens then the body's heart rate and temperature rises.
As the body continues to overheat, a person can begin to feel sick, irritability, fainting and even death if body does not cool down. Too much exposure to heat can eventually cause a variety of illness. Illnesses include, heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat rash and heat cramps (Occupational Heat Exposure, n.d.).
Know when it’s too hot
You can determine when it’s too hot when;
- You feel the temperature rising
- Humidity rises
- You feel the sun getting stronger
- Little or no air
- Work is strenuous
Heat-related illnesses can be prevented. Important ways to reduce heat exposure and the risk of heat-related illness (Choi, M., 2011). Be sure to;
- Drink lots of water and stay hydrated
- Start early
- Dress accordingly – wear light colors
- Stay wet
- Have an emergency plan
- Rest in the shade