What is Heat Illness and How to Prevent it?

Summer is here, and the sun is shining, a great relief from the cold winters we experience here in the Mid-West. But with a bright and shining sun also comes danger for those who work outdoors. When working out in the summer sun, you risk exposure to high heat, high temperatures, and humidity in some areas. If left unattended, the high temperature will lead to heat illness and can worsen as time goes.

What is Heat Illness?

Heat illness, also known as heat stress, is a reaction to your body after over-exerting itself on a hot day.

What is Considered Heat Illness?

Heat Illness falls into five different ailments: heat rash, sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.

What Happens?                    

The lowest illness, heat rash, is a mild irritation to the skin and easily treatable. Next on the list is sunburn, which is painful and can leave blisters on the skin and can leave some people bedridden depending on the severity. Heat cramps are what follows after which cause muscle pains and/or spasms, along with heavy sweating.

After Heat Cramps, the severity of the situation multiplies as the next level is heat exhaustion. This sickness is visible as you go pale and cold, start to feel nausea, and suffer from dizziness. If left ignored, you fall at risk into heading into a heat stroke where your body temperature is 103°F or higher. If this happens call 911 immediately and move the person into a shaded or covered area and try to cool them off but do not give them anything to drink.

Who Does this Affect?

Heat Illness is an issue that anyone who works outdoors, who work in tight, cramped areas, and buildings where there is no air circulation — people who work in distribution centers, construction, roofing, HVAC, and even landscaping jobs. People who are also more at risk is anyone at the age of 65 or older.

How to Prevent Heat Illness?

The most important way to prevent heat-related illnesses is to stay out of the heat on hot days. Though depending on your work that might not be an option, so some other methods would be to drink water regularly, NOT ONLY WHEN YOU’RE THIRSTY. Drink frequently, if your body is telling you to drink, you’ve already past the safe point. That’s when you take a break until you are hydrated.

Another option on larger job sites is to have a rotation of workers to help spread outbreaks but still get the same amount of work done. To add onto that have space where cool air can be circulated or have fans and cold water readily available around the site.

Products to Use

Some handy objects have been made by companies in the industry to help prevent heat illnesses and are quite helpful. You have cooling hats that can be worn under your hardhat or as a hat itself. Some of them have impressive features that use your sweat to help cool you off as well, and others that incorporate into your daily work gear.

Cooling Towels

More than just your average towel this piece of cloth actually feels cooler than surrounding air. It does this by using water from a faucet, water bottle, or bucket, and soaking for on minute or until saturated. As the water evaporates the PVA material in the towel creating a cooling sensation.

Evaporative Cooling Vests

Workers who need to maintain a cool body temperature but need to maintain high visibility on the job site a cool vest is your best choice. These vests come in two variations where you can either submerge it in water or have water poured into the vest itself. Either way the vests offers hours or up to days of cooling ability.

Hard Hat Brim with Shade

On certain sights you have to wear a hard hat and that hat protects you from debris not UV rays. With this attachment protect your neck and vision on any hardhat without getting in trouble with the foreman or the safety inspector.


Similar to the Cooling Towel, soak the head band in water and wring it out. Afterwards place it on your head and secure. Maintaining a cool head isn’t just a metaphor for being relaxed. You head contains major blood vessels that travel through your body. so keeping your head and neck cool is crucial.

Final Thoughts

Heat Illness is a dangerous symptom of working outside. But if you take precautions and you stay hydrated, you reduce the risk. Then adding on some cooling gear on top of that will keep you working no matter how hot the day. At Acme Tools to Do Your Best Work, that means you have to be able to work comfortably.

For more information, the CDC, as well as OSHA, have articles that clarify what to look for and what to do reduce the risk of Heat Illness.

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