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Summer Heat Safety Tips

Beating the heat isn’t always possible when you are on the job. Here is some important information and easy to use resources to help you keep your employees safe from heat-related illness and injuries during the dog days of summer. 

There are three major heat-related illnesses to watch out for: heat stroke, heat exhaustion and heat cramps.  All are caused by elevated body temperatures (hyperthermia) and can impact many of the systems in the body.

Heat Stroke:
The most severe of the three heat-related illnesses, occurs when the internal body temperature rises above normal and is most critical when body temperatures exceed 104 Fahrenheit.  Untreated heatstroke can quickly damage your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. The damage worsens the longer treatment is delayed, increasing your risk of serious complications or death.  Symptoms include:

  • High body temperature
  • Altered mental state or behavior
  • Alteration in sweating 
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Flushed skin
  • Rapid breathing
  • Racing heart rate
  • Headache

Heat Exhaustion:
Heat exhaustion is caused by exposure to high temperatures, particularly when combined with high humidity levels and strenuous physical activity.  Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, but fortunately, heat exhaustion is preventable.  Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion may develop suddenly or over time, especially after prolonged periods of exercise. Symptoms include:

  • Cool, moist skin with goose bumps 
  • Heavy sweating
  • Faintness
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Weak, rapid pulse
  • Low blood pressure upon standing
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea
  • Headache

Heat Cramps: 
The mildest form of heat-related illness, often involve painful cramps and involuntary muscle spasms during heavy exercise in hot environments. Fluid and electrolyte loss often contribute to heat cramps.  Any muscles that are being used can be affected, but those most usually impacted are:

  • Calves
  • Arms
  • Abdominal wall
  • Back


Click on the links for Safety Bulletins and Shift Briefings related to prevention summer heat-related illnesses and other important tips from the MEL Safety Institute.

For more information about preventing and treating heat-related illnesses please visit the Mayo Clinic website at, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention or the National Safety Council.