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Working outdoors? Here are some key safety tips

(NC) For many people who work outside, high temperatures and heat waves pose a danger to their health – and their ability to work.

Know the risk
Heat can hurt everyone’s health, particularly people who work outside, older adults, young children and people with health conditions are at greater risk for heat illness.

Heat illnesses such as heat exhaustion or heatstroke can come on quickly and have lasting health effects. Some heat illnesses, such as heatstroke, can even be deadly. Taking some simple precautions when it is hot outdoors can save you and your co-workers’ lives.

Watch for symptoms
Symptoms of heat illness include dizziness, extreme thirst and rapid heartbeat. Watch yourself and your co-workers for these symptoms. If symptoms are spotted, get to a cool place and hydrate.

If symptoms are ignored or go unnoticed, heatstroke could happen. Heatstroke symptoms include a high body temperature, confusion and a lack of coordination, dizziness or fainting, and a lack of sweating in the heat. These symptoms can be a medical emergency and warrant an immediate 911 call. While waiting for help, move the person to a cool place if you can, fan the person as much as possible and apply cold water to large areas of their skin or clothing.

Pace yourself
Do not assume you can work at your normal pace during a heat wave. Slow down and take more frequent breaks in the shade to drink water. Although it may feel like lost time on the job, it will help you stay healthy enough to get more done overall.

Drink up
Drink plenty of liquids, especially water, during a heat wave. Do this before you feel thirsty to decrease the risk of becoming dehydrated. Thirst is not a good indicator of dehydration.

Dress for the weather
Wear loose-fitting, breathable clothing and a wide-brimmed hat if you can. If you wear heavy safety gear on the job, your breaks are even more important. Make sure to remove your gear while you take breathers in a safe location.

A few simple steps like these can go a long way to protecting you during a heat event.

Find more information about working outdoors in the heat and heat illnesses at

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