Safety Director, Nelson Ortiz, Shares Three Tips to Prevent Heat Stress in People

summer heat

Heat stress, heat stroke, and other heat-related conditions can be incredibly dangerous. When you spend time outside in high temperatures, you need to know the signs and how to prevent them from happening to you, family members, neighbors, friends, employees, or someone on your payroll. At EarthWorks, we are used to working under extreme weather conditions, and our Safety Director, Nelson Ortiz, has a few tips to share to keep everyone safe under the Texas sun.

What Causes Heat Stress?

When we sweat, the body attempts to cool itself down to prevent overheating. However, when it gets so hot that our bodies can no longer keep up, the body temperature soon surpasses a healthy level and continues to rise—eventually causing heat stress. Failure to control your internal temperature can be caused by numerous things, such as being out in extreme weather, wearing unsuitable clothing, working too hard, working at the height of the heat during the day, or other factors. 

Children, the elderly, and people who are overweight or have underlying health issues are more susceptible to heat stress, but the truth is that it can happen to anyone. A common mistake is to think it can’t happen to you, but heat-related conditions can sneak up on you when you least expect it, especially in a hot and dry climate. 

Symptoms of Heat Stress

Learning to recognize the symptoms can help keep you and others safe. Pay attention to your body, and keep an eye on those around you. These are some of the most common symptoms of heat stress, but they can vary. It is time for a break if you ever feel unwell or strange when working outside in the sun.

  • Faintness
  • Excessive Sweating
  • Muscle cramps
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Vertigo
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches

It is easy to think that hard work makes you feel tired or faint, and it can be tricky to notice the difference. Keep in mind that it is always better to be safe than sorry. See preventive measures below.

How to Prevent It

This post aims to teach you how to prevent heat stress in yourself and those around you. The best strategy is to stay out of the sun during the hottest hours of the day or let a professional handle any necessary landscaping or yard work. These tips can help you stay safe if this is not an option. 

Don’t forget that while temperatures have dropped in Texas, this doesn’t mean you can’t suffer heat stress. The sun is still out, your body sweats when it gets overheated, and you still need water to stay hydrated. Check the weather before planning outdoor work, and use an app like the OSHA-NIOSH Heat Safety Tool App for real-time updates, area-specific safety recommendations, and hourly forecasts.

Stay Hydratedheat stress

Hydration is essential when trying to prevent heat stress. Drink water rather than sugary beverages, and make it a habit to drink before you go outside. Also, bring a large water bottle to rehydrate quickly throughout the day. Just like plants, humans need to stay hydrated, and it is easy to forget to drink water when working in the yard.

Avoid Caffeine, Sugar, and Alcohol

Coffee, alcoholic beverages, or energy drinks may sound like a great idea to stay motivated in the heat, but neither is recommended when you are scheduled for yardwork or time in the sun. The problem isn’t that alcohol, caffeine, and sugar can dehydrate, but that these drinks don’t provide sufficient (if any) hydration. Lack of hydration can lead to heat stress in people.

Cover Up from the Sun

Covering up when working in the heat can seem contradictory, but this helps prevent sunburn. Put on a hat or a cap to protect your head from direct sunlight, and consider wearing long-sleeved shirts whenever possible. Also, don’t forget to always wear sunscreen when working outside, even on cloudy days. 

What to Do When Experiencing Heat Stress

What to do if you are outside watering plants or doing yard work and suddenly experience any of the symptoms described in this post? First, stop what you are doing, go back inside, or find a cool, shady spot. Getting out of the sun is a must. 

Second, hydrate! Drink water and try to relax until you feel better. If the symptoms persist for more than an hour or seem to be getting worse after following these steps, seek medical assistance. 

Stay Safe Out There, Folks!

nelson martinez ortizWorking in the yard and caring for your plants has therapeutic benefits, but only if you look after yourself. Heat stress is a severe condition that can quickly occur in high Texas temperatures, and your best defense is to know the symptoms and how to prevent heat stress from affecting you or others. 

Keep these tips from Nelson in mind the next time you decide to go outside in the sun and don’t hesitate to reach out to us with questions or to request professional landscaping assistance. We are here to help.


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