As Iowans sweat out another extreme heat advisory, with high humidity and
temperatures in the 90s, the Iowa Department of Public Health reminds workers who
are exposed to extreme heat as part of their job to be especially mindful of
heat-related illnesses. Workers at risk of heat stress include outdoor workers and
people who work in hot environments, such as firefighters, bakery workers, farmers,
and factory workers. Those at greatest risk of heat illness include those who are 65
years of age or older, are overweight, have heart disease or high blood pressure, or
take medications that may be affected by extreme heat.
“In addition to the dangers from the heat itself, outside workers have an increased
risk of injuries resulting from sweaty palms, fogged-up safety glasses, and
dizziness,” said IDPH Medical Director, Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. “Accidentally
touching surfaces heated by the sun can also result in burns.”
Employers and workers should make protection from heat stress a priority. Prevention
* Schedule outdoor jobs for the cooler part of the day.
* Wear light-colored, loose-fitting, breathable clothing such as cotton.
* Drink water frequently. Drink enough water that you never become thirsty.
* Take extra breaks during extreme heat and humidity, and take breaks in the
shade or a cool area when possible.
* Monitor your physical condition and that of your coworkers.
Signs of becoming ill from the heat include confusion, irritability,
lightheadedness, loss of coordination, unusual fatigue, and goose bumps or chills in
the hot weather. If you or someone else shows these symptoms:
* Stop any activity immediately.
* Move to an indoor air conditioned area or to a shaded area outdoors, and use
cool water to cool down the body.
* Drink water or a rehydration drink.
* Contact a health professional.
Heat illnesses can be deadly. For more information on heat illness prevention and