This time of the year is hot, hot, HOT! Both the temperature and the humidity can soar well above what most people find comfortable, but our work must go on. Precautions are needed when working in hot environments to keep yourself safe to avoid heat stress and heat-related illness.

Heat illness is a general term that describes many different types of heat-related ailments that can cause serious harm. CMC field staff are particularly at risk when going into crawlspaces and attics of customers’ homes. These areas can be 25-50 degrees hotter than the outside air and severely increase the chance of heat-related complications.

The human body has processes to cool you down when you get too hot. Sweating is an example of this. When your body temperature rises, your sweat glands release a salty liquid onto your skin. The liquid evaporates and cools your skin and your blood. Too much sweating causes dehydration, which hinders how effectively your body can cool itself, leading to heat illness.

Below are the five types of heat illness and explain how to recognize and remedy these illnesses if they occur.

  • Heat Syncope – This is caused by dehydration and a lack of movement to aid circulation. You can easily pass out if you get too hot.
    • Remedy: Remember to hydrate and move all body parts to promote circulation. If you are in the direct sun, remember to take frequent breaks in the shade.
  • Heat Rash – These are rashes that occur when your sweat can’t properly evaporate.
    • Remedy: Rest in a cool place and try to pat the affected area dry. Drying powders can help but never use a liquid-based ointment.
  • Heat Cramps – These cramps are due to salt depletion from excess sweating. Strenuous activity in a hot environment can be a cause heat cramps.
    • Remedy: Stop the activity immediately and try to cool down. Sports beverages and anything with electrolytes (like juices) are helpful to reduce cramps. If cramps worsen or don’t go away after a few hours, seek medical attention.
  • Heat Exhaustion – This is caused by losing too much body liquid through sweating. Headache, tiredness and pale or flushed skin can be due to heat exhaustion. An affected person cannot realize this is happening and might have trouble communicating their issue. In these instances, co-workers need to step in and help the affected person.
    • Remedy: Get out of the hot environment immediately and try to cool down. Drink plenty of liquids, or (if it’s another person), have them drink water or sports drinks. If they become unconscious, call 911 immediately.
  • Heat Stroke – Heat stroke can occur to anyone and limits the cognitive ability of the affected person. Confusion, slurred speech and odd behavior can be signs of heat stroke. Heat stroke means the body temperature is too high for natural cooling processes to take place. Medical attention is required in this situation.
    • Remedy: Call 911 immediately, work to cool the person and move them out of the hot environment. Try to get them to drink fluids, but if they can’t, wet them with cold water and fan them to help cool their body.

Remember, hydration is the name of the game to help prevent heat-related illnesses. Stay away from sodas, energy drinks or any other type of sugary drink. Frequent breaks in the shade and leaving extra-hot areas like attics or crawlspaces to cool down are imperative to keep you free of heat-related illness this summer.

Back to Top
Skip to content