Specialist Services RedGuard’s modules are deployed to support projects that operate in harsh environments around the globe. Some of those locations include the extreme heat of summer in places like West Texas, the Gulf of Mexico, or areas along the U.S. Gulf Coast. Our buildings and modules protect from the elements and hazards of the job. However, while our equipment protects from the elements, some jobs require personnel to be out in it. Let's examine what heat-related illnesses are, the different types, their symptoms, first aid steps to take, and preventative measures and equipment that can be used to help prevent them.
Working in high heat and humidity for extended periods without breaks and appropriate fluid can lead to various heat-related illnesses. They range in severity from sunburn, to, the most extreme, heat stroke.
Heat stroke occurs when the body can no longer control its temperature. Its temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body cannot cool down. A heat stroke can cause a person’s internal temperature to rise to 106°F or higher, in as little as 10 minutes. If immediate action is not taken, heat stroke can lead to permanent disability and even death.
Symptoms of heat stroke:
Actions to take: Heat stroke is a serious condition, and action should be taken. Call emergency medical services immediately. Move the affected person to a cooler place and work to lower their temperature using cool, damp cloths. Do not give them anything to drink.
Heat exhaustion is the body’s response to an excessive loss of water and salt, usually through excessive sweating. While it is not as serious as heat stroke, heat exhaustion should be immediately addressed as it can lead to heat stroke.
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion:
Actions to take: First, move the person to a cool place and loosen their clothes to help them cool off. Damp clothes or a cool bath/shower can also cool them down. If the symptoms do not improve, last longer than an hour, or they throw up, get medical help.
Heat cramps are painful muscle cramps and spasms that manifest after prolonged or heavy exercise and sweating in high-heat environments.
Actions to take: Stop working and get to a cooler place. While there, drink water or a sports drink to replenish and rehydrate. Hold off resuming physical activity until the cramps are gone, and you are fully rehydrated.
Sunburns are skin irritation or damage caused by overexposure to the sun or to ultraviolet light.
Symptoms of sunburn:
Actions to take: Place cool cloths on the sunburned areas or use a moisturizing lotion. Do not break blisters, as this will cause more pain and invite infection.
The best way to address heat-related illnesses is through prevention. Companies with employees at risk for heat-related conditions should incorporate a heat illness prevention plan into their operations. To help companies create these plans, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides questions to consider when planning. Some of these questions are basic, such as:
The full list of questions and considerations can be found on the OSHA website.
In addition to having a heat-related illness plan in place, it is necessary to have day-to-day supervision of employees working in these environments. Conditions can change dramatically throughout a workday; monitoring real-world conditions is critical. Employees should be trained in the company’s prevention plan. This training should include:
The necessary support equipment should also be incorporated into the plan. The plan should include readily accessible first aid kits and access to climate-controlled areas. Because of the remote nature of many industries, it is important to have access to climate-controlled areas for personnel. Not only does climate control offer a place to take a break from the heat, but it also provides a location out of the elements for emergencies. Modules with HVAC systems can offer necessary relief from extreme temperatures since they are designed to operate in remote areas during inclement weather.
Specialist Services RedGuard modules are designed with redundant HVAC systems, independent temperature control per room, and A-60 insulation, making them valuable equipment in a prevention plan. Redundant HVAC systems allow for the base that one system goes down; a backup is ready. This system eliminates downtime and ensures a cooler place is always available for personnel.
Independent temperature control per room allows for the ability to adjust rooms for specific purposes. This adaptability allows for a more controlled transition to the cooler temperature. For example, the first room’s temperature can be set at the midpoint between the outside and a cooler second room. This graduated adjustment gives less shock to the body than immediately going into a cold room.
The A-60 insulation in the modules is intended to provide fire protection. However, an additional benefit of the insulation is that it works well to keep the temperature constant inside the module. A constant temperature helps with the longevity of the HVAC system since it won't have to work as hard to maintain the desired temperatures.
Hopefully, you are now a step closer to recognizing the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses and understanding how the right equipment and prevention plan can work to protect personnel. Specialist Services RedGuard’s modules are designed to work in remote locations in extreme temperatures. Contact us today if you need a module to incorporate into your prevention plan.