Heat-related Illness

Truck driving at sunset

A heat-related illness, such as heat exhaustion, heat cramps, or sun stroke, occurs when the body cannot cool itself sufficiently and blood rushes to the skin's surface. When less blood reaches your muscles, organs, and brain, it can lead to physical and mental health problems, or even death. Read the information below, and ask yourself if there are actions you can take to protect yourself.

Recognize the Hazards


Exposure to hot temperatures can cause heat-related exhaustion, cramps, and sun stroke. Working outside, exercising, and even sitting on a beach in hot conditions can cause heat-related issues.


Malfunctioning A/C units, wearing personal protective equipment, and operating equipment in hot conditions can lead to overheating and heat-related illnesses.

Personal Behaviors

Obesity, alcohol consumption, and failing to drink enough water can lead to heat-related illnesses. Signs of dehydration include fatigue, cramps, thirst, dizziness, nausea, headaches, vomiting, dry lips and mouth, and feeling overheated.

Know the Defense

Stay Hydrated

The Mayo Clinic recommends drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day. Eating fruits and vegetables can also provide additional hydration. If you exercise or exert yourself at work, be sure to replenish those fluids in addition to consuming the recommended amount of water.

Utilize Personal Protective Equipment

If you are working outside and are exposed to hot temperatures, wear sunscreen with a high sun protection factor (SPF). This can help protect against cancer-causing ultraviolet A and B rays. Also, wear a hat to protect your head and provide shade. If a portable fan is available, use it to cool yourself.

Be Attentive to Surroundings

Monitor weather forecasts for hot temperatures and heed air quality warnings. Plan ahead and pack sunscreen, protective clothing, and extra water. If available, take regular breaks in a shady area to lower your body temperature.

Obey Hazard Warning Signs

If the heat index is too high, plan accordingly and limit your exposure to hot conditions. Stay inside where it is cool and avoid prolonged activities that can lead to excessive sweating. For drivers, let the truck cool down before driving.

Note: These lists are not intended to be all-inclusive.


The information in this article is provided as a courtesy of Great West Casualty Company and is part of the Value-Driven® Company program. Value-Driven Company was created to help educate and inform insureds so they can make better decisions, build a culture that values safety, and manage risk more effectively. To see what additional resources Great West Casualty Company can provide for its insureds, please contact your safety representative, or click below to find an agent. 

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© Great West Casualty Company 2018. The material in this publication is the property of Great West Casualty Company unless otherwise noted and may not be reproduced without its written consent by any person other than a current insured of Great West Casualty Company for business purposes. Insured should attribute use as follows: “© Great West Casualty Company 2018. Used with permission by Great West Casualty Company.”

This material is intended to be a broad overview of the subject matter and is provided for informational purposes only. Great West Casualty Company does not provide legal advice to its insureds, nor does it advise insureds on employment-related issues. Therefore, the subject matter is not intended to serve as legal or employment advice for any issue(s) that may arise in the operations of its insureds. Legal advice should always be sought from the insured’s legal counsel. Great West Casualty Company shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss, action, or inaction alleged to be caused directly or indirectly as a result of the information contained herein.