Safety at Steigerwaldt: Beat the Heat! 

This month’s safety topic for the Steigerwaldt team is safety from the heat and how to prevent heat illnesses. So far, this summer has had some hot days, and now that it is officially the hottest month of the year, it is very important to protect yourself from the sun and the heat.

There are two types of illness that can occur from the heat, one having greater consequences than the other, but both are very dangerous. These illnesses are Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke. Know the differences!

Heat Exhaustion occurs when you neglect to take care of yourself during a heat wave without even realizing it. This is when your body loses a high amount of water and the essential salt that you need to stay hydrated, usually in the form of sweat. The most common symptoms of heat exhaustion are:
● Sweating
● Muscle cramps
● Weakness and fatigue, feeling like you can’t go on
● Rapid heart rate
● Headache, dizziness, feeling of passing out

There are several ways to prevent heat exhaustion from happening such as:
● Drinking ample amounts of water: the first sign of dehydration is just by simply feeling thirsty
● Consuming liquids such as Gatorade, Pedialyte, and other drinks that contain the salts and other essentials that your body needs
● Taking a break every once in a while to cool off in the shade or in an air-conditioned environment if necessary

What to do if you have heat exhaustion:
● Find an air-conditioned or shaded environment if possible
● Drink water or a sports drink
● Apply cool water to your skin to cool your body temperature

Heat Stroke occurs when heat exhaustion continues, is not treated, and the effects are much worse and become very dangerous. Some of the most common signs of this are:

● Sweating has stopped, and now your body is overheating and your skin is dry
● Heavy breathing continues, and body temperature reaches 103 degrees
● Beginning to become confused and not thinking clearly
● Convulsions and passing out can occur

What to do if you are experiencing these symptoms:
● Contact 911 or someone nearby to help you as the effects could leave you stranded in the woods
● Find a cool place whether it is water or air conditioning
● Do not take salt tablets or pain relievers
● Remove unnecessary clothing

Remember to bring ample amounts of water into the woods with you, and take care of yourself this summer. If you start experiencing these illnesses, let someone know, and find a way to reverse them. Stay safe out there!

– Nate Loeffler, Forester