Summer is here! With summer comes the potential for hot humid weather conditions. When heat is combined with other stresses such as hard physical work, loss of fluids, fatigue, or some medical conditions, it can lead to heat–related illness, injury and in extreme instances can be fatal.
Individuals who are not acclimatized to hot conditions are more susceptible to experiencing some form of heat stress. Modifying your activities may be required at the start of warm weather conditions to give your body time to adjust to the heat. Full acclimatization can take up to 14 days, however some acclimatization is evident after 4 days. Consider performing labour intensive work in the early morning hours when temperatures are cooler. Staying hydrated, taking breaks, wearing light breathable clothing, and avoiding direct sunlight are some ways to prevent heat stress illnesses and injuries.
It is very important that you recognize the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses. Visit http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/pubs/gl_heat.php for a summary of heat stress related illnesses, causes, symptoms, treatment and prevention. Additional information on heat stress is provided in the McMaster University Risk Management Manual (RMM) #408.