Heat-Related Illness: The Dark Side of Summer

Temperatures consistently blaze over 100 degrees in the intense summer months. The unbearable heat can often cause many health issues for tractor trailer drivers.

Know the Symptoms

Heat stroke is a condition resulting from the failure of the body’s temperature-regulating mechanisms. It occurs when an individual is exposed to excessively high temperatures. Symptoms include:

  • Confusion
  • Fainting
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations
  • Disorientation
  • Excessive Sweating and Red, Hot, Dry Skin
  • Extremely High Body Temperatures

If you experience any of these symptoms, pull over and seek help immediately. Heat stroke is a very serious condition that can be fatal if left untreated.

Heat Exhaustion is marginally different from heat stroke and is slightly less severe. Symptoms include:

  • Cool, Moist Skin
  • Heavy Sweating
  • Headache
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Dizziness or Light-Headedness
  • Weakness
  • Unsatisfiable Thirst
  • Elevated Heart Beat

While milder than heat stroke, heat exhaustion is still serious and is especially present during the summer months. If you experience any of these symptoms, pull over when convenient and rest in a cool area while sipping water.

Heat Cramps and Heat Rash are the least severe types of heat illness but should still be noted because they can lead to more serious conditions. Keep an eye out for muscle spasms, muscle pain, and abdominal cramping. Heat rash usually appears as clusters of red bumps which can be found under tight clothing and in folds of the skin near the upper chest and neck area.

 

First Aid for Heat Illness

If you notice any of the previously-stated symptoms, it is important to take quick action to prevent damage to your health. As soon as you notice symptoms:

  • Move to a cool location
  • Alert others of your condition
  • Lie down and loosen clothing to permit airflow
  • Apply a cool, wet cloth to as much of your body as you can
  • Sip water slowly (avoid sodas and caffeine)
    • Drinking too quickly can cause vomiting
  • Seek medical attention if repeated vomiting occurs

Prevention During the Summer

Individuals who work long hours during the summer months are most at risk for heat-related illness. Prioritize being aware of your exposure to high temperatures. When working in extreme temperatures, be aware of your body’s need for rest and hydration. Water is the best defense against heat illness. Always have multiple water bottles at your disposal. Take precautions, know the signs, stay healthy.

 

Original Sources:

Truck Driver Safety Tips for the Heat

Rudy Lopez – Director of Safety at Blackrock Logistics