Staying safe in high heat

Extreme heat is sweeping across the nation. The U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has several recommendations on protecting workers in hot environments. According to OSHA, one of the primary things to keep workers safe in heat is to drink plenty of fluids, as much as a quart per hour. Having people trained in recognizing, and helping to treat, heat stress disorders is also vital to keeping workers safe. Other ways to reduce heat stress, according to OSHA, are moving to cooler places when possible, reducing work pace or work load and, when possible, removing or loosening some clothing.

The International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) said the most critical factor in preventing heat related injuries in responders is proper hydration. “Water must be replaced, both during the exercise period and at emergency scenes,” according to IAFF. “Thirst should not be relied upon to stimulate drinking. Cool water and cups must be readily available at both exercise areas and emergency scenes and drinking encouraged.” Firefighters and emergency workers who suffer heat related injuries require continuous monitoring in the field, and if necessary, at the hospital, according to the IAFF.

“Recovery from heat exhaustion is usually rapid, but immediate return to duty is not advisable,” the IAFF said.

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