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Thread: Preventing Heat Stress for Glassworkers

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Washington state
    Posts
    19

    Default Preventing Heat Stress for Glassworkers

    The following is an article I wrote a while back on avoiding heat stress. I first wrote the article for a firefighter magazine, and then for a construction website. I've tweaked it (minimally) to apply to those of us who like to play with fire.

    I've also got a handy-dandy hydration analysis chart, which enables you to assess your hydration based on the color of your pee, but I'm unable to upload it here. I'll post here when I've got it up on my website. You can find it online over at Lampwork, Etc. or TalkGlass under this same thread title.

    The forum won't let me bold or underline text to improve the reading layout, nor will it allow me to post a link to the aforementioned hydration analysis chart; my apologies for the difficult read and for making you go look for stuff.

    I'll be posting this on my website along with the other glass forums. You're welcome to share this information; please include my byline/copyright info.

    Cheers,
    Chris


    Preventing Heat Stress in the Glassworker
    Copyright Christine Hansen 2009

    It’s always hot when you play with fire, but the summer sun really cranks up the heat. Heat stress saps energy, clouds clear thinking and can be fatal if not treated quickly.

    What is Heat Stress?

    When the mercury skyrockets, your body compensates by circulating blood to the skin, which raises the skin temperature and allows your body to diffuse extra heat. If you’re physically active, less blood is available to circulate to the skin.

    Your body also cools off by sweating, but that may not be enough relief on a humid day, if you’re dehydrated, or if you’ve got a huge torch but no blast-shield.

    If your body can’t eliminate the extra heat, it stores this heat. Your core temperature will rise, and your heart rate will increase. You are experiencing heat stress.

    Early warning signs of heat related emergencies include a chilled feeling, goose bumps on the chest and upper arms, a throbbing pressure in the head, unsteadiness, nausea and fatigue. Cool off and hydrate as fast as possible.

    Heat Related Emergencies: Obtain medical help immediately!

    Heat cramps -
    • Muscles seize painfully, during or after working hours.
    • Treatment for heat cramps is to rest in the shade, get near a fan, spray the person with water and massage the cramp.

    Heat cramps occur when the body’s electrolyte level drops too low. They usually begin in the arms, legs or abdomen, and often precede heat exhaustion. Heat cramps are the least serious of the heat disorders, but extremely painful.

    Heat exhaustion -
    • Body temperature may be normal or higher
    • Victim may have a headache
    • Victim’s skin feels clammy
    • Victim may be fatigued, weak or nauseous
    • Treatment for heat exhaustion includes getting the victim to a cool place to rest, applying cool compresses, elevating the feet and giving the victim fluids.

    Heat exhaustion is a medical emergency characterized by extreme tiredness, breathlessness, dizziness, tachycardia, and a body temperature of 101°F-104°F. The victim may also suffer nausea and skin may appear cool, damp, and pale. Heat exhaustion may or may not be preceded by heat cramps and sweating may or may not occur. The individual may also suffer a varying level of consciousness.

    The reason for the potentially wide variety of signs and symptoms seen in heat exhaustion is because the body’s ability to dissipate heat is at its maximum limit and beginning to falter, and the body temperature is rising. The extent to which an individual suffers or exhibits these signs and symptoms tends to be inherent to that individual.

    Heat stroke –
    • Victim’s body can no longer regulate core temperature
    • Victim has stopped sweating
    • Victim’s skin is hot and dry
    • May be red, mottled or bluish
    • Victim’s body temperature is 105 degrees F or higher
    • Victim may be confused, delirious, lose consciousness or go into convulsions or coma.

    Heat stroke is the worst heat-related injury. The victim will be hot, reddish and warm to the touch. Heat stroke is characterized by a body temperature of 105°F-106°F, total confusion or unconsciousness, cessation of sweating, increased heart rate, and low blood pressure. Victims may also suffer headaches or convulsions.

    In heat stroke, the body’s temperature regulating systems have been completely overwhelmed and have ceased to function, resulting in a dramatic increase in internal body-core temperature. Unless active cooling methods are pursued immediately, severe injury or death will occur quickly.

    The emergency care of heat stroke is to cool the body as quickly as possible. One of the best methods for cooling the body during a heat emergency is to wrap the patient in cool, wet sheets.

    First Aid:
    • Move victim to the shade
    • Loosen clothes
    • Provide fluids
    • Wipe or spray skin with cool water

    Preventing Heat Stress:
    Keep yourself healthy in the heat by remembering this acronym: HEAT (Hydrate, Educate, Acclimate, and Train for fitness).

    Hydrate: Drink about 16-24 ounces of cool water or sports drinks per hour (ice-cold water may cause stomach cramps). Pre-hydrate by drinking plenty of water when you’re not rocking the torch and avoid alcohol and caffeine—they dehydrate the body.

    Educate: Know the signs and symptoms of heat stress, and learn preventive measures. Cool off frequently in the shade with cold wet towels, a sprayer filled with cool water and fans. Do the most physically demanding tasks early in the day. If you can, take turns with your coworkers performing heavy work in the heat. Wear light-colored cotton clothing. A wet bandanna tied around your neck will help keep you cool. Some medications intensify heat stress—check with your doctor or pharmacist about your prescriptions.

    Acclimate: It takes the human body anywhere from 5 to 14 days to adapt to torrid weather - give yourself time to acclimate and take it easy at first.

    Train for fitness: You can improve your heat tolerance by improving your cardiovascular fitness - when you’re physically fit, your body functions more efficiently and produces less body heat.

  2. #2

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    Thanks, Christine. This info is helpful too as we go into art fair season and face some unbelievably hot conditions!
    Margie

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Lexington, KY U.S.A
    Posts
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    Great article, Chris! Thanks!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Greater Seattle Wa Area
    Posts
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    Thanks Christine!
    Lets hope everyone hears the message and takes care of themselves.
    Leslie

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    OKC, Oklahoma
    Posts
    767

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    An added piece of advice coming from the nutritionist at the local hospital is to drink sports drinks that have no or low levels of sugar. We use Crystal Light Hydration. It's already been hovering around 100 degrees here and not even July yet.

    Susan

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Location
    Bishop, California for now ... and soon to be Patagonia, Arizona in 2006
    Posts
    4,992

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    Don't underestimate the value of wet clothing as evaporative cooling. When I was working at my torch 8-10 hours a day, I would step into the shower fully clothed once every half hour or so. I wouldn't give you much for the fashion and hair statement that I made, but I was cool and comfy until the clothes dried out. Alternatively, if the shower wasn't an option, I would just pour a bucket of water over my head. I lived in Death Valley for several summers, so I learned to cope with really EXTREME heat. Water, lots of it, all the time, in every way!

    Margi

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