Avoiding Heat Exhaustion

When you’re working outside in hot, steamy conditions, you have to be mindful of heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion. This happens when your body responds to the loss of water and salt from lots of sweating.

Carolyn Sheridan is the clinical director for AgriSafe, a network of health professionals who provide occupational health and safety services to rural families. She says to pay attention to how you’re feeling when you’re working in a hot environment.

"Symptoms of heat exhaustion include things like heavy sweating, you may really have extreme weakness and fatigue, even as much as dizziness, confusion," says Sheridan. "And then sometimes nausea, clammy moist skin, pale or flushed, even things like muscle cramping."

Mowing, weed-whacking, and field harvesting are common triggers for heat exhaustion. You can also become overheated from clothing such as coveralls. The risk of heat-related illness dramatically increases when the heat index climbs to 90-degrees or more.

If you start to feel any of the symptoms, Sheridan says the first thing to do is stop what you’re doing and rest.

"Rest in a cool, shaded area or get into an air conditioned area, so you need to cool your body down. Drink plenty of cool water, not alcoholic beverages. People think about like Powerades and some of those replacement-types of drinks. Just plain water is as good as anything," she says. "And sometimes we even advise people to take a cool shower or get your face wet, under your arms and different areas of your body to cool down."