Heat stroke

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke

For farmers, farmhands, and livestock, sitting in an air-conditioned room during a hot summer’s day is generally not an option. That’s why it’s important to learn the signs and treatment of heat stress, so everyone can stay cool and hydrated all summer long.

Heat exhaustion vs. heat stroke

Because farmers have to work outside, often around hot machinery, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) lists farmers as high risk for heat stress. Learn the symptoms of heat-related illnesses so you can recognize the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke in yourself or your workers.

Heat exhaustion

Symptoms of heat exhaustion

When someone is experiencing heat exhaustion, they may experience the following symptoms:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Weakness
  • Tiredness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Muscle cramps
  • Confusion
  • Clammy skin
  • Headache

Treating heat exhaustion

To treat heat exhaustion, first get the person into air-conditioning or shade and have them start drinking water. Don’t offer alcoholic or caffeinated beverages, even if the drinks are cold. Both can contribute to dehydration.

The National Safety Council also recommends removing outer layers of clothing and immersing the person in a pool or bath. If that’s not possible, apply ice bags, wet cloths, or cold packs to the neck, armpits, and groin to help reduce body temperature.

If the person does not start feeling better within one hour, loses consciousness, or is unable to drink, seek medical attention immediately. They may be nearing a heat stroke.

Heat stroke

Symptoms of heat stroke

The most dangerous and extreme heat illness is heat stroke, also known as a sun stroke. Heat strokes can kill or damage parts of the brain and other internal organs. Symptoms of heat stroke might include:

  • Chills
  • Lack of sweating despite the heat
  • A throbbing headache
  • Hallucinations
  • Confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • Seizures
  • Red, hot, and dry skin
  • Nausea
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Rapid, shallow breathing

Responding to heat stroke

  • Call 911.
  • Move the person to a cool place.
  • Don’t leave the person until medical services arrive.
  • Remove outer clothing.
  • Immerse in cool water if possible.
  • Apply ice bags, cool cloths, or cold packs to the neck, armpits, and groin.
  • Turn on any fans or air-conditioning available to speed cooling.

Preventing heat exhaustion and heat stroke

NIOSH also encourages employers to take steps to reduce the risk of workplace heat stress.

  • Reschedule work for earlier or later in the day to avoid midday heat.
  • Provide cool, potable water in work area. Workers need 2 to 4 cups of water every hour.
  • Provide sunscreen and require it be worn.
  • Allow time for water and rest breaks.
  • Require protective clothing like hats and lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Increase the number of workers on tasks that involve being outside.
  • Closely supervise new employees until they are acclimatized to working conditions.
  • Train supervisors and workers on the prevention and signs and of heat illness.

 Protection for your farm

When preventative measures and doing all the right things isn’t enough, we’ll keep our promise to protect your interests. Rely on the strength and stability of your local mutual company backed by Grinnell Mutual’s 100 years of experience protecting farming operations like yours. Learn about our farm property and liability coverage options. Contact your Grinnell Mutual Member agent today.

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