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The points of contact between Rutgers Cooperative Extension Service and the grower & business communities are the NJ County Agricultural Agents. The agents are a tremendous source of information for both new and experienced growers. Visit your local county extension office.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Heat Stress Prevention

by, Michelle Infante-Casella, Agricultural Agent

This week's forecast is for temperatures in the 90's with high humidity. Agricultural worker safety is important to agricultural employers. Some tips on preventing worker illness during hot weather include:

1. Drinking enough water to replace body fluids lost through sweating before, during and after work.
2. Gradually adjusing to working in the heat.
3. Taking periodic rest breaks in shaded or cooler areas whenever possible.
4. Careful monitoring of enviornmental conditions and worker health by supervisors.

Train workers to recognize, prevent and treat heat illness is important. Workers should take precautions like: getting enough rest, wear protective clothing, drink extra water, adjust work schedules if necessary.

Recognizing heat illness is also important. Sypmptoms include:
*Fatigue, *Nausea, *Muscle Aches, Weakness and Cramps, *Headaches, *Confusion or Anxiety, *Dizziness, *Fainting, *Drenching Sweats Accompanied by Clammy and Cool Skin and *Slowed or Weakened Heartbeat.

Giving immediate first aid when workers become ill is very important. If the sypmtoms are severe, if body temperature is at 104 F (40 C) or higher, and if the person is inconherent or unresponsive call 911 immediately. Take these steps to treat a person with heat illness:

1. Get the person out of the sun and heat and into a cool shady or air-conditioned area quickly.
2. Lay the person down with legs and feet elevated slightly.
3. Loosen or remove clothing.
4. Have the person drink cool water, sports drinks or other non-caffienated beverages.
5. Use a spray bottle or cool wet sponge/cloth to apply to the persons body and fan them. This will create evaporative cooling.
6. Monitor the person since heat exhaustion can quickly become heat stroke.

Alcohol, drug or other substance abuse will increase the risk of heat illness. Improving personal health will help prevent heat stress.