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It’s Getting Hot in Here: Understand the signs of heatstroke and exhaustion

Toronto, Ontario — The past two years, COVID-19 has been the centre of every shop’s attention. However, as we enter the summer months things like heat exhaustion and heat stroke are still things shops should be keeping an eye on.

Regardless if a facility has air conditioning or not, employees are still at risk of developing heat-related syndromes, and it is important to know the difference between them, so you can respond accordingly. 

Heat exhaustion is a condition that includes symptoms such as heavy sweating and rapid pulse; nausea or vomiting; cool, pale, clammy skin; headaches and muscle cramps.

Heat exhaustion can be caused by exposure to high temperatures particularly when combined with high humidity, and strenuous physical activity. Without prompt treatment, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke, a life-threatening condition. 

If you or someone in the shop thinks they are experiencing heat exhaustion they should stop all activity and rest, move to a cooler area, use a cold compress or take a cold shower, drink lots of cool water or sports drinks. 

If signs and symptoms don’t improve within an hour they should seek medical attention. 

Heatstroke, as mentioned previously a life-threatening condition. It is a condition caused by your body overheating, usually as a result of prolonged exposure to or physical exertion in high temperatures. 

The symptoms of heatstroke include, but are not limited to high body temperature 104 F (40 C) or higher; altered mental state or behaviour, such as confusion, slurred speech, agitation, delirium, seizures; no sweating and red hot, dry skin; rapid pulse; and loss of consciousness. 

If you or someone in the shop thinks they are experiencing heat stroke they should call 911 immediately and try to cool the person until help arrives. 

Although heat exhaustion and heat stroke can still be developed within air conditioned facilities, having AC greatly reduces the risk.

Other ways to prevent heat-related syndromes include drinking plenty of water; wearing light coloured loose-fitting clothing; sprinkling water on skin and clothes; avoiding the sun between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.; avoiding extreme exercise and taking plenty of breaks while exercising or doing laborious activities. 

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