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Last year, record high temperatures prompted the US Department of Labor to remind employers to protect workers from extreme heat. Certain populations, such as older adults, young children, and those with certain health conditions, are more susceptible to heat illness when exposed to extreme heat. Heatstroke, the most serious form of heat-related illness, can be fatal. The Weather Channel predicts that Summer 2024 will be extremely hot, so it is important to be prepared. Heatstroke can occur due to overexertion or exposure to a hot environment, with most fatal cases happening in the first few days of working in warm or hot weather.

Symptoms of heatstroke include altered mental state, hot flushed skin, headache, seizures, high body temperature, rapid breathing, and a racing heartbeat. Treatment for heatstroke involves calling 911 immediately as it is a medical emergency that requires professional care. Moving the person to a cooler area and removing excess clothing are essential steps to cooling down the body’s core temperature. Applying ice, cold towels, or cool water to the skin can also help in the process of cooling down. It is important not to provide fluids to someone experiencing heatstroke as their altered state of consciousness may affect their ability to swallow safely.

Certain individuals, such as older adults, young children, and those with mobility issues or specific health conditions, are more susceptible to heat illness and heatstroke. During a heatwave, it is crucial to check on neighbors who may be at higher risk and have limited access to air conditioning or cool environments. It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion, which can progress to heatstroke if left untreated. Prompt action, such as moving to a cooler area, removing excess clothing, and applying cool compresses, can help in treating heatstroke and preventing further complications.

Employers should take precautions to protect outdoor workers from extreme heat by providing adequate breaks, shade, and hydration. Individuals should also stay hydrated by drinking enough water before heading outdoors and while in the heat. Checking on neighbors, especially those who may be more vulnerable to heat illness, is essential during a heatwave. Overall, being aware of the risks of heatstroke, knowing the symptoms, and taking prompt action can help prevent serious consequences of extreme heat exposure. With Summer 2024 expected to be particularly hot, it is important to be prepared and stay vigilant for signs of heat-related illnesses.

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