Beat the Heat: Preparing for Extreme Temperatures

As we enter July, the hottest month of the year for the majority of the United States, it’s important to prepare for extreme temperatures. Average temperatures have steadily risen over the years, with July 2023 being the hottest month ever recorded and little hope of temperatures cooling down in the near future. Extreme heat can pose serious health risks with or without proper preparation, and those who work outdoors are especially vulnerable.

How to Prepare for Extreme Heat

Extreme heat is defined as a period of high heat and humidity with temperatures above 90 degrees for at least two consecutive days, and it is the leading cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S. annually. Here are some ways to prepare for extreme heat this season:

  • Weather-strip doors and windows and cover windows to block sunlight.
  • Install window air conditioners or other central cooling devices. Do not rely on a fan as your primary cooling device.
  • Add insulation in order to keep the heat out.
  • Identify places in your area where you can cool off in case you are caught in extreme heat outdoors.
  • Learn to recognize the signs of heat illness and ways to combat it.

How to Prevent and Navigate Heat Illness

It is important to be able to identify the various types of heat illness and act accordingly. Different forms of heat illness include:

  • Heat stroke – The most serious form of heat sickness, symptoms include extremely high body temperature, hot and dry skin, accelerated pulse, loss of consciousness, slurred speech and nausea. Heat stroke requires immediate medical attention. Victims of heat stroke should refrain from drinking liquids until medical help arrives.
  • Heat exhaustion – Often prevalent during any work or physical activity in a hot environment, symptoms include heavy sweating, dizziness, nausea, muscle cramps, headache and fatigue. Those experiencing heat exhaustion should move to a cooler location, hydrate and remove excess clothing. Call a healthcare provider if symptoms persist for more than an hour.
  • Heat cramps – Heat cramps are common and symptoms include muscle pains and spasms in the stomach, arms or legs. If you are experiencing heat cramps, move to a cooler location and monitor your symptoms. As with heat exhaustion, contact a healthcare provider if symptoms persist for more than an hour.

Impact of Extreme Heat on Outdoor Workers

With increased prevalence of extreme heat comes increased health and economic consequences. This is particularly concerning for those who work outdoors or in facilities without adequate cooling systems. Though the death toll is difficult to measure due to lack of cause identification or misreporting, some researchers estimate that worker deaths caused by extreme heat each year is most likely in the thousands. These heat waves also have economic impacts, including productivity loss, increased healthcare costs and worker compensation claims. In order to prevent heat-related injuries and fatalities, workers should stay hydrated, take some time to find shade and rest and wear the proper clothing to deflect heat.

Reach Out to an Advisor

Reach out to a SISCO Risk Consultant to learn more about how to prepare for extreme temperatures and beat the heat this summer!