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Avoiding Heat Illness During Flood Response

Armen Hareyan's picture

Heat-related deaths and illness are preventable. As sandbagging and other flood-related labor continue over the next several weeks, it is important for workers to protect their health. "Even young and healthy individuals can have problems with heat exhaustion if they are doing strenuous physical work," said Iowa Department of Public Health Director Tom Newton. "Individuals may be so caught up in sandbagging or other flood work that they forget to take care of themselves."

It's important for Iowans to remember their own personal health as they work to protect and recover from flooding in their homes and communities. Precautions include:

* Drink plenty of fluids. During heavy exercise, two to four 16 ounce servings of cool, non-alcoholic, sugar-free fluids are recommended.

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* Replace salt and minerals. Heavy sweating removes salt and minerals from your body. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals lost in sweat.

* Wear appropriate clothing and sunscreen. Choose lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. If you are outdoors, protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat, sunglasses and a sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher.

* Pace yourself. Start slowly and pick up intensity gradually. If exertion makes your heart pound and leaves you gasping for breath, STOP the activity.

* Take care of each other. Monitor the condition of co-workers or those around you. Heat-induced illness can cause a person to become confused or lose consciousness.