derw3Summer is here, and many are not accustom to working and playing in hot temperatures. Heat stress is a signal that says the body is having difficulty maintaining its narrow temperature range. The heart pumps faster, blood is diverted from internal organs to the skin, breathing rate increases, and sweating increases, all in an attempt to transfer more heat to the outside air and cool the skin by the evaporation of sweat. If the body can’t keep up, then the person suffers effects ranging from heat cramps to heat exhaustion, and finally to heat stroke.

If the body cannot get rid of excess heat, it will store it. When this happens, the body’s core temperature rises and the heart rate increases.  As the body continues to store heat, the person begins to lose concentration and has difficulty focusing on a task, may become irritable or sick, and often loses the desire to drink. The next stage is most often fainting and even death if the person is not cooled down. The major heat stress injuries and illnesses are; heat rash, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, then heat stroke.

The most serious heat-related problem is heat stroke, which is life threatening. Heat stroke occurs when the core temperature rises so high that the body’s normal cooling mechanism ceases to function. In effect, the brain gives up and stops doing the things it normally does to maintain body temperature at a constant level.