Heat Stress

Washington State can be known for its extreme temperatures. The temperature can change 20 degrees from one day to the next.  Excessive heat can contribute to accidents in many ways. It becomes more difficult to concentrate on the job and this can lead to errors in judgment. It is important to be aware of the danger signs.  When wearing restrictive clothing, even lower temperature can be dangerous.

Heat Exhaustion Symptoms

  • Person is dazed, staggers, or becomes dizzy.
  • Person may present symptoms of nausea or vomiting and the person can feel chilly.
  • Person’s face looks pale.
  • Person has weak pulse and body temperature is below normal.
  • Person is heavily sweating with clammy/moist skin.

Heat Exhaustion Prevention

  • Avoid ice water while working
  • Drink plenty of liquids, preferably water, every 15 minutes, even if you are not thirsty
  • Avoid heavy, fatty-type foods
  • Wear light colored clothing
  • Avoid fatigue; get plenty of rest

REMEMBER: Alcohol consumption off work hours can still contribute to dehydration the next day.

What to do

  • Move person to a cooler place. Do not leave alone.
  • Loosen and remove heavy clothing that restricts evaporative cooling
  • If conscious, provide small amounts of cool water to drink
  • Remember three simple words: water, rest, shade.

Heat Stroke

  • More severe symptoms of heat exhaustion
  • Sweating may or may not be present
  • Red or flushed, hot, dry skin
  • Bizarre behavior
  • Mental confusion or losing consciousness

What to do

  • Call 911 for emergency medical assistance
  • Keep the victim lying down with their head lower than their feet.
  • Loosen the victim’s clothing.
  • Give fluids if possible. Avoid ice water and alcohol. Salt solutions are best.

Remember: Heat illness can be life threatening. The body is reacting to a life threatening situation.  Do not take chances. Prevent Heat illness by being proactive.


Presenter tips

  • Pre-read the Toolbox Talk. Your comfort level and confidence will be higher if you know your topic.
  • Discuss related tasks, work areas or events that make the Toolbox Talk relevant to your job site.
  • Involve the workers by asking questions and input that drives discussion.

Questions for Discussion

  • Has anyone experienced heat illness?
  • Has anyone had to wear restrictive clothing while working in moderate heat?