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Beat the heat: Know the signs and minimize the risks of heat stress
Author: Arkansas Row Crops

Yes, it is August in Arkansas, and that means plenty of hot weather.   As everyone knows, we started early this year with 105 to 110 degree days reported in July, possibly the hottest and driest year on record since 1954.  The dangers of heat stress are of real concern during these conditions.  Farmers and agricultural workers need to know how to recognize as well as prevent heat stress.

Individuals over the age of 40 need to take extra care when the weather is hot because the ability to sweat declines as we age.

Heat Stress Hazards to Be Aware Of:

  • Heat Cramps – Heavy sweating drains the body of salt, which cannot be replaced by simply drinking water.  Painful cramps occur in the arms, legs or stomach.   Move to a cool area at once.  Loosen clothing and drink cool, lightly-salted water.
  • Heat Exhaustion – Lack of water and salt intake causes the body’s cooling system to break down.  The body’s internal temperature rises to approximately 101 degrees Fahrenheit and the victim is likely to be tired, weak, clumsy, upset, or confused.  Blurred vision may occur.  Get medical attention immediately.
  • Heat Stroke – This can kill a person quickly.  Once the body uses up all its water and salt, sweating ceases.  Internal body temperature rises quickly to 105.8 degrees Fahrenheit.  The victim will have hot dry red skin, rapid pulse, headache, and may pass out.  Call an ambulance immediately.  A victim of heat stroke must have professional medical attention.  Move the victim to a cool area, remove excess clothing, fan and spray them with cool water until help arrives.  This is an extreme situation, and anything short of professional medical attention may lead to unnecessary trauma.

Preventive Measures That Will Minimize Risk:

  • Drink plenty of water!
  • Get out of the heat occasionally.
  • Be alert to early warnings of heat stress, both in yourself and in your co-workers.


Please be sure to exercise caution in these extreme conditions, and have a safe and productive summer.

Information provided by the Farm Safety Association Inc. and the Canadian Coalition for Agricultural Safety and Rural Health Coalition.

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