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Scorching heat puts outdoor workers' lives at risk

OSHA heat safety app downloaded 6,500x in one week

July 17, 2012
KEYWORDS heat / OSHA / spanish / stroke
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heatwaveWith much of the Midwest and East Coast in the grip of a severe heat wave – and other parts of the country in danger of returning to it – the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is issuing excessive heat warnings that include information that protects outdoor workers by describing the signs of heat illness and what to do if someone becomes ill.

The NOAA, OSHA and other stakeholders have stepped up efforts to spread the message of "Water. Rest. Shade." and to make sure that the public has the most accurate information about the signs of heat illness.

The primary signs and symptoms of heat stroke: confusion, irrational behavior, loss of coordination, loss of consciousness or convulsions – all associated with abnormally high body temperatures. Although heat stroke is usually associated with a lack of sweating and hot, dry skin, a significant percentage of individuals with heat stroke have moist skin and appear to be sweating, particularly in humid conditions. There is a widely held misperception that someone who is sweating cannot be having heat stroke. Heat exhaustion, if untreated, may quickly progress to life-threatening heat stroke. Body temperature can rise to 106 degrees or higher within 10-15 minutes. The signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion are headache, nausea, vertigo, weakness, thirst and giddiness.

OSHA has a heat safety app for Android and iPhones to help get this life-saving information out to employers and workers who are most at-risk. During the week that the heat wave began, the app was downloaded nearly 6,500 times, and has now exceeded 30,000 downloads. Visit OSHA's Heat page to download the app and find other resources, including radio interviews, new wallet cards and public service announcements in both English and Spanish. To order any of OSHA's materials in English or Spanish, call OSHA's Office of Communications at (202) 693-1999 or visit OSHA's Publications page.

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