As summer temperatures rise, it’s important to take safety precautions if you’re working in the heat. Outdoor and indoor heat exposure can quickly become dangerous.
The National Weather Service (NWS) uses a heat index (HI) to classify environmental heat into four categories:
- Caution (80°F – 90°F HI)
- Extreme Caution (91°F – 103°F HI)
- Danger (103°F – 124°F HI)
- Extreme Danger (126°F or higher HI)
The HI is a measure of how hot it really feels when relative humidity is factored in with the actual air temperature. When the HI is 80°F or higher, serious occupational heat-related illnesses and injuries become more frequent, especially in workplaces where workers unused to the heat are performing strenuous work without easy access to cool water or cool/shaded areas.
How can you protect yourself and others in high temps?
- Drink Cool Water: drink cool water through the day even if you are not thirsty — at least 1 cup every 20 minutes.
- Take Rest Breaks: give yourself enough time to recover from heat
- Find Shade or a Cool Area: take breaks in a designated shady or cool location.
- Dress for the Heat: wear a hat and light-colored, loose-fitting, breathable clothing whenever possible.
- Watch Out for Each Other: monitor yourself and others for signs of heat illness.
How do you recognize heat-related illnesses and what should you do?
The following are signs of a medical emergency!
- Abnormal thinking or behavior
- Slurred speech
- Loss of consciousness
If you see these signs, call 911 immediately! Cool the worker right away with water or ice, and stay with the worker until help arrives.
Additional signs and actions for a non-emergency situation:
- If one experiences:
- Headache or nausea
- Weakness or dizziness
- Heavy sweating or hot, dry skin
- Elevated body temperature
- Decreased urine output
- Take these actions:
- Give water to drink
- Remove unnecessary clothing
- Move to a cooler area
- Cool with water, ice, or a fan
- Do not leave alone
- Seek medical care if needed
Learn more at www.osha.gov/heat and stay safe this summer!