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Heat Stress Management

Aug 17, 2007
For a lot of people, summertime may mean sunny, comfortable days ideal for long walks, picnics, and beaches. However, for some people it may mean working outside on projects under the heat of the sun, with no proper cooling systems. Hot working conditions may pose particular hazards to health and safety that is why it is important to be guided of the various injuries and illnesses linked with heat stress, and the proper heat stress management.

There are four environmental factors that affect the extent of stress that a worker may face under a hot working area: humidity, temperature, wind speed, and radiant heat like that coming from a furnace or the sun. People who have high blood pressure and those who take a diuretics (water pills) are likely to be more responsive to heat exposure.

The body protects itself from heat by three mechanisms: sweating, altering the flow of blood, and breathing. The body's first response is circulating blood to the skin, increasing skin temperature and allowing it to give off some heat. In heavy work, one's muscles require more blood flow thus reducing the amount of blood available for the skin to release heat.

Sweating is another way that helps one's body to cool off; however, only when levels of humidity are low enough to permit sweat to evaporate, as well as if salts and water lost through sweating is replaced. If the body overheats, heat stress condition occurs, and can lead to several problems including heat cramps, heat rash, heat exhaustion, fainting, or heat stroke.

In the majority of cases, heat stress may be prevented, or at least, reducing the risk of developing heat stress. An effective heat stress management provides assistance on how to recognize heat stress and prevent them. Here are some simple ways of proper heat stress management to prevent heat stress:

Clothing
Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that permits sweat to evaporate light colored clothing absorbs lesser heat than dark colors. If working outdoors, wearing a lightweight cap with good brim, will keep off the sun from the face and head.

Drinking
Drinking a lot of fluids, particularly when the color of one's urine is dark yellow, will replace the lost body fluids from sweating one quart every hour might be necessary. Sports drink or water is suggested; avoid beverages like iced tea, coffee, and cola as caffeine is a diuretic that makes one urinate more.

Work schedule
If possible, schedule heavy work during cooler times of the day. If not, rotate heavy work in heat with lighter work in areas that are cooler. Minimizing the hours spent in extreme heat when doing heavy work will lessen the possibilities of heat stress.

Heat stress management if effectively practiced reduces, prevents, or eliminates the harmful effects of heat stroke.
About the Author
If you want to get more information about stress management, please visit my blog at http://my-self-esteem.blogspot.com
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