Now is the time to make sure your crews get a reminder on the signs of heat stroke. A recent news report cited an incident in which four roofing contractors on one project were suffering from heat stroke, one had to be carried off of the roof and three were hospitalized. The owner of that company should be held accountable in this case but we may all be a little guilty of pushing ourselves further than we should. That’s why a little heat awareness tune-up is in order.
Prolonged exposure to high temperatures can cause heat-related illnesses, such as sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke. Few jobs expose workers more to the causes of these heat-related illnesses than roofing. Few roofs are located in the shade, and with the materials used in some roofing systems, most of the heat is reflected, and in the case of a roofer, radiate right back to him.
Part of the benefits of the switch to white coating products is that they are cooler to work with. Although few building owners would make roofing products decisions based on the safety and well-being of the roofing maintenance crews, it is still noteworthy. Traditional roofs could heat up into the 180-degree marks whereas a roofing product such as SureCoat would remain close to the outside temperature.
If we have to work in the heat on any roofing surface, there are things we can do to prevent heat stroke. Smart decisions like proper hydration (avoiding caffeine or alcohol), proper nutrition (fruits and vegetables), frequent breaks, (in a cool or shady area if possible). Wear the proper clothing, (lightweight, light colored clothing). New employees should be acclimated to the heat for a minimum of one week until they become used to the environment. Enduring 6 or more hours exposed to the heat of the day takes a brief conditioning period.
Know the Signs:
HEAT CRAMPS – SYMPTOMS: Muscle spasms in the stomach, arms and legs, and
sometimes the back. These are due to the loss of body water and salt through perspiration. FIRST AID: Move victim to a cooler area and give approximately 6 ounces of water every 15 minutes, and seek a medical evaluation.
HEAT EXHAUSTION – SYMPTOMS: Heavy sweating, cool pale skin, nausea, headache, weakness, rapid pulse, vomiting and normal body temperature, often occurs when perspiration evaporates too slowly to properly cool the body. FIRST AID: Move to cooler area, and lying the victim down, elevate the legs approximately 6 inches, fan the body, and if possible, apply cool wet towels and give approximately 6 ounces of water every 15 minutes, and seek a medical evaluation.
HEAT STROKE – SYMPTOMS: High body temperature, red and often dry skin, rapid breathing and pulse, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, disorganization, confusion, or unconsciousness. FIRST AID: This is life threatening and you must act quickly. Call 911 and move the victim to a cooler area and try to immerse the victim in cool water or apply cool wet towels to the body. DO NOT GIVE WATER! Treat for shock until an Emergency Medical Technician arrives.
In this hot and humid summer, SureCoat Systems wants you to stay safe out there. We hope this little reminder will serve you and your crews well!