Working in extreme temperatures

Although most Albertans can’t wait for the warm days of August, too much sun can cause severe health problems. A few hours in high temperatures can cause dehydration, heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Who is most at risk?

Particularly vulnerable to the heat are the elderly, young children and those who work, exercise and live outdoors. People with underlying problems such as heart disease, asthma or chronic bronchitis, or those persons on diuretics may also be at higher risk. Medications that can raise the body temperature, such as medicines for insomnia, nausea, prostate conditions, Parkinson’s disease, or even Benadryl could also increase the risk and a Pharmacist or Doctor should be consulted for possible side effects during extreme heat.

Heat exhaustion and Heat stroke:

Among the most worrisome conditions from prolonged heat exposure are heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat exhaustion can cause muscle cramps, low blood pressure, rapid pulse and nausea and can quickly lead to heat stroke. People with heat stroke will often appear dehydrated or dry from losing sweat and their mental status may be abnormal. Heat stroke is a medical emergency that can cause seizures, loss of consciousness and even death. According to Dr. Mark Bonta, an internal medicine specialist at Toronto General Hospital, those patients brought to hospital with heat stroke have a 25-60% risk of dying from the condition.

What can you do?

The Canadian Red Cross has the following tips to help individuals stay cool:

  • Avoid being outdoors in the hottest part of the day.
  • If you must go out, try going out in the early morning or later evening hours when the sun is not as strong.
  • Work and exercise in brief periods.
  • Take frequent breaks.
  • Dress in light, loose clothing. Wear a hat.
  • Drink plenty of cool fluids, but avoid caffeine and alcohol.

Take precautions and Beat the Heat this summer!


AB Gov: Working in Extreme Temperatures

AB Gov: Best Practices: Working Safety in the Heat and Cold