Heat Related Illnesses and First Aid for the Landscape Worker

Whether you are a homeowner or a landscaper, working in the summer heat can lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Preventing heat-related illness by keeping landscape workers safe in the summer heat can go a long way to creating a successful and healthy landscape. Below are four types of heat illness and what to do in an emergency.

4 Types of Heat Illness and What to Do

Heat Stroke – This condition is known as one of the most serious forms of heat-related illness as it can cause death. This condition can happen if the body loses the ability to regulate its core temperature. Symptoms include very high body temperature, excessive sweating or red dry skin, seizures, fainting, and confusion.

What to do: Call 911! Once 911 is called, move to the shade if possible, loosen clothing, put cold compresses or ice packs under armpits and on wrists, and provide water immediately. Wetting skin with cool water or applying ice packs can help reduce temperature. Be sure to stay with the person who has suffered heat stroke until help arrives.

Heat Exhaustion – When you lose water and salt from heavy sweating and activity, the body sometimes responds with heat exhaustion. Symptoms of heat exhaustion include fast heartbeat, thirst, lightheadedness, nausea or vomiting, excessive sweating, clammy cool or moist skin, headache, dizziness, weakness, or irritability.

What to do: Find a cool shady area, then lie down or sit down. Drink water and cool beverages. Try cold compresses or ice packs on armpits, wrists, and neck. Do not return to work that day or possibly the next day as well. Take heat exhaustion victim to the emergency room or health clinic for treatment if symptoms do not improve within 60 minutes.

Heat Cramps – Heat cramps are often seen after strenuous work and are caused by loss of fluid and body salts from sweating. Symptoms include strong muscle spasms, cramps and pain in abdomen, arms, or legs.

What to do: Find a cool shady area, then lie down or sit down. Drink water and cool beverages. Return to work only after symptoms have disappeared; usually a few hours. If cramps do not ease, seek medical attention immediately.

Heat Rash – Symptoms of heat rash or “prickly heat” include red bumpy skin on upper chest, neck, and in the creases and folds of skin.

What to do: Keep the rash area dry. Try to stay in a cooler area. Contact a medical professional for specific over-the-counter medicine recommendations to reduce swelling and rash.

Remember, if you have any concern about a worker’s medical condition should they suffer a heat-related illness, it is always best to contact a medical professional immediately. Safely installing and maintaining your landscape in the extreme summer heat is important.

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