extreme heat causes more deaths than hurricanes, lightning, tornados, earthquakes, and floods combined

We’re at the end of Week 2 of National Safety Month and I want to focus on something practical and very timely: heat. Summers here in Central Florida are notoriously hot and humid. We’ve hit the rainy season here and temperatures are regularly bouncing from the upper 80s to the low 90s. In conditions like this, it’s easy to downplay a co-worker’s irritability and loss of focus on a hot job site. These are symptoms that if ignored, can progress quickly to heat stroke. When the body loses the ability to regulate its core temperature, you are absolutely dealing with an emergency.

Death caused by heat stroke is preventable.

  • Schedule training sessions for all employees or, at the very least, distribute educational materials. Remember, those of us who work in the office should know how to help someone who’s been brought inside to cool down.
  • Provide shade tents, hats, neck shields, and cooling towels for those out in the field.
  • Make sure there’s plenty of water onsite and check in regularly with your crew to ensure that they’re drinking it! If a member of your team is feeling nauseated and doesn’t want to drink, they’re exhibiting symptoms of heat exhaustion.
  • Emphasize that pushing through the symptoms to keep up with everyone else, particularly for those unaccustomed to working in the heat, is neither required nor expected. Frequent water breaks, however, are.
  • Understand how heat and humidity affect the body and learn to recognize a body in distress, including your own.
  • Have a plan in place so you can act quickly.

If the messaging in this post seems a bit exaggerated, consider this article from The National Weather Service. Heat illness comes on so fast it can catch you completely off guard. “One more load” or “ten more minutes” is not worth your life. It’s just not.

You can find good tips and resources through OSHA’s Heat Illness Prevention campaign. Take a few minutes and check out this fact sheet from the program.

Be safe and be well!