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Summertime and heat stroke: Be sure to protect yourself

If you work outdoors during the hot summer months in Iowa, it’s imperative to protect yourself against the heat. Failing to do so can result in a variety of health concerns, such as heat stroke and dehydration.

Heat stroke is a serious heat injury that can result in illness or death if left untreated. For example, if you don’t receive immediate treatment after overheating, it could cause damage to your internal organs.

The most common symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Shallow breathing
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Lack of sweating, even though you’re hot
  • Confusion
  • Staggering when walking
  • Unconsciousness

If you’re experiencing one or more of these symptoms, stop what you’re doing and seek immediate first aid. This can include but is not limited to:

  • Drinking cool water
  • Moving to a cooler place, such as an air-conditioned building
  • Applying ice to your body
  • Fanning yourself

Depending on the circumstances, you may need to ask a coworker to assist you with administering first aid.

Also, this is a good time to call 911, as you’ll want to receive treatment at a local hospital. Even if you’re feeling better after getting out of the heat, an experienced doctor can run a variety of tests to ensure you didn’t suffer any internal damage.

How to prevent heat stroke

Rather than take a risk with your health, it’s best to take steps to prevent heat stroke. If you’re working in hot conditions, do the following:

  • Drink extra fluids, such as water, before you start your workday
  • Wear lightweight clothing that allows your skin to breathe
  • Take regular breaks throughout the day, ideally in a cool place
  • Work during cooler times of the day, such as before the sun comes up and after it goes down

If you suffer a heat-related injury on the job, receive immediate medical attention and then report the incident to your employer. From there, follow the treatment strategy outlined by your medical team.

If your doctor suggests time away from work to recover, look into filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. This will provide you with income while you recover, thus eliminating some of the financial stress from your life.