Boy, it’s hot out there!

Did You Know?

Heat illness kills more people each year than hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods combined!

July and August … two of the hottest months every year in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. We all see the record temperatures and heat advisories and experience the immediate discomfort of stepping out into the sun during the day. To better cope with the challenges of operating in this environment, here are some safety tips to minimize the risk to you and UT Southwestern.

In the June article (Prepping for Summer), we discussed heat acclimatization and some initial tips to minimize the chance for heat illness. Here we’d like to share some data and facts around extreme heat. To better protect yourself, remember the acronym HEAT:

  • Hydrate – whether you feel thirsty or not, drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
  • Educate yourself – be aware of temperature and heat index forecasts; know when the temperature and heat index are more dangerous.
  • Act quickly – when a heat illness is suspected; know the warning signs and symptoms of heat illness.
  • Take it easy – avoid overexertion, especially when working or operating outdoors.

The graphic below outlines some key differences between heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which can be fatal if not treated quickly.

Drawing of a person with a circle around the head, with a question mark, a water bottle, and heavy sweating. Heat Exhaustion: Act Fast - Move to a cooler area; loosen clothing, sip cool water, seek medical help if symptoms don't improve. Dizziness, thirst, heavy sweating, nausea, and weakness. Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke. Heat Stroke: Act Fast - Call 911, move person to a cooler area, loosen clothing and remove extra layers, cool with water or ice. Confusion, dizziness, become unconscious, Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not given.
Image Source: National Weather Service

It’s also important to remember that vulnerable populations (pregnant women, newborns, the elderly, for example) are at a higher risk of heat illness. The National Weather Service is an amazing resource and provides more useful information for protecting these populations.

A few examples of ways to protect yourself, your employees, and UTSW during this time include:

  • Managers consciously limiting how long employees work outside and ensuring they rotate indoors to restore temperature equilibrium
  • Not leaving patients outdoors waiting for their vehicles for long periods
  • Knowing signs of heat illness and acting before illness occurs to reduce potential liability

The Office of Safety and Business Continuity reminds all our employees to be aware and stay safe through the next few months, so you can continue to provide world-class teaching, research, and patient care at UT Southwestern!