Find out how to ensure you’re not producing a heat stroke on your ag operation this summer.
Florida farms get hot, and they get hot earlier than anywhere else. Heat safety is as important as safety around tractors, chemicals, and livestock. It’s one of a farmer’s busiest times, so it can go unnoticed until it is too late. Heat stroke can be prevented, but you have to know what to look for.
What Heat Stress and Heat Stroke Are
Heat and humidity cause health problems when the body’s mechanisms for cooling are impaired. The body perspires because sweat evaporates and cools the body. If a person is dehydrated, then their body is no longer able to sweat. Similarly, if the outside air is humid, as is common in Florida summers, sweat cannot evaporate. Instead, it sits on the skin and increases the body’s temperature. Then, heat exhaustion or heat stroke occur.
Heat exhaustion is marked by cool skin that is pale and clammy, dizziness, headaches, cramps, nausea/vomiting, weakness, confusion, and unconsciousness. It is caused by dehydration and loss of the salts and electrolytes that the body needs to function. It is the first step.
Then comes heat stroke, which is a medical emergency. The body is unable to cool itself at all. Characteristics of heat stroke include skin that is hot and dry, a high body temperature, changes in behavior like confusion or anger, chills, nausea, dizziness, unconsciousness, convulsions, and delirium. Heat stroke can be fatal if not treated.
In either case, the overheated individual should be moved to a cool area, given fluids if conscious, and have extra clothing taken off. In the case of heat stroke, it’s advised to try to cool the person by applying cool water to their skin. Lastly, medical professionals should be called in both cases.
Heat Safety Tips
Young children, the elderly, and those with health issues are more susceptible to heat stress. Theses heat safety tips are a good way to avoid heat exhaustion and stroke for everyone in an ag setting:
- Ensure all farm workers and employees know about preventing heat stroke.
- Plan 15-minute breaks in a cooled area or shade for every two hours of work.
- Drink one cup of water for every 15 to 30 minutes working in the heat.
- Do not eat or drink caffeine, alcohol, and sugary items because they increase dehydration.
- Wear light-colored, lightweight, loose clothing.
- Schedule strenuous work, or that which requires personal protective equipment, for the morning and evening hours.
- Take a break at the hottest part of the day.
- Gradually adjust to working in the heat.
- Know if your prescriptions and over-the-counter medications might make you more susceptible to heat stroke.
- Get a clearance from your doctor for your chronic health condition to work in hot and humid environments.
Griffin Fertilizer is committed to helping both growers and ranchers make sound agronomic and economic decisions in order to maximize the health of their grove and pasture. As a full-service custom dry & liquid fertilizer blender and crop protection product distributor, we will continue our mission to further advance Florida agriculture. For questions or concerns about your farm or pasture, contact us and one of our team will be in touch.