Landscapers, day laborers and agricultural workers in California are especially prone to heat stroke this time of year and should take special precautions if their work requires them to remain in direct sunlight for extended periods of time.
Heat stroke requires immediate medical attention, as it has the potential to cause damage to internal organs. In the most serious of cases, heat stroke can also result in death.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of heat stroke are easy to identify, but only if you're looking for them. These commonly include:
- Pounding headache
- Dry, hot skin
- Little or no sweating, despite high temperatures
- Vomiting and nausea
- Muscle cramps, often accompanied by muscle weakness
- Fast heartbeat
- Shallow breathing
Some people who are suffering from heat stroke experience most of these symptoms. Others, however, may only experience one or two early on, before running into additional side effects.
Don't delay in administering first aid
If you suspect heat stroke, there are a variety of first aid tips you can follow to improve your situation. After calling 911, move to a cool area. If an air-conditioned building is not available, move into the shade.
Here are some of the best ways to lower your core temperature:
- Remove unnecessary clothing
- Apply ice packs to your back and neck
- Wet your skin and fan air simultaneously
Once paramedics arrive, they can take over while they transport you to a local hospital for more comprehensive treatment.
Can you prevent heat stroke?
As someone who works outdoors, it's important to have a plan in place for preventing heat stroke. This typically includes:
- Wearing lightweight clothing
- Using sunscreen
- Drinking extra water before starting your shift (and while working)
- Taking regularly scheduled breaks to cool off
- Working during the coolest time of the day
What happens after heat stroke?
Your medical team will examine you, run a variety of tests and do their best to stabilize your health. If you're lucky, you'll make a full recovery without incurring any additional injuries.
Conversely, it's possible that heat stroke will cause additional damage, thus calling for a more detailed treatment strategy.
If you suffer heat stroke at work and are unable to immediately return to your job, file a claim for workers' compensation benefits.