Heat Related Illness in the Truck

Hot weather still prevelant

While the upper Midwest enjoys cooler end of summer temperatures the image above, from the Weather Channel, suggests heat is still an issue.  Most of the Southern US is still battling 90F and above temperatures daily. Truck drivers parked on concrete and asphalt will experience temps 10-20 degrees above that while the heat inside a standard aluminum box trailer will surpass even that. Heat related illnesses are still a concern into September. Equipped with a few supplies and knowledge driver’s can prevent this from affecting them on the road or dockside waiting for their next load.

Heat Related Illness

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration details four distinct illnesses that can result from prolonged exposure to heat and lack of hydration. Heat Stroke, Heat Exhaustion, Heat Cramps and Heat Rash. Heat Stroke and Exhaustion are the two we will focus on in this post. Heat stroke occurs when the body can no longer regulate its core temperature. This usually results after long exposure to high temperatures and lack of fluids. Heat exhaustion results from dehydration when the body has been depleted of fluids and salt.  Heat cramps can happen when body salts are low and muscles are tired. This often happens after long working hours. Finally heat rash can be a real irritant and happens when sweat is not able to evaporate from the skin causing an uncomfortable and unsightly rash.

Start with Prevention

Being aware of your exposure to high temperatures in priority. When working in extreme temperatures be aware of your body’s need for rest and hydration. Water is the best defense and sports drinks that contain little or no caffeine are the best defense. Taking breaks and seeking cooler conditions like shade or air conditioned offices are best. When the body is well hydrated it can better regulate core temperatures stopping heat stroke and exhaustion early. When working in high temperature settings it is best to plan ahead by having plenty of fluids available to “sip” on throughout the day.

Heat Illness Symptoms

Heat stroke can be identified by the following symptoms:

  • Confusion
  • Fainting
  • Seizures
  • Excessive sweating and red, hot, dry skin
  • Extremely high body temperatures

Heat Exhaustion is a bit different, if you find these symptoms you may be suffering from heat exhaustion:

  • Cool moist skin
  • Heavy Sweating
  • Headache
  • Vomiting or Nausea
  • Dizziness or Light headedness
  • Weakness
  • Insatiable thirst
  • Elevated heart beat

Heat cramps and rash are the less severe, medically speaking, but can be warning signs leading to exhaustion and stroke. Be aware of muscle spasms, muscle pain and abdominal cramping and pain as well. Heat rash usually looks like clusters of red bumps on skin and is found under tight clothing, in folds of skin and on the upper chest neck area.

First Aid for Heat Illness

Keep these easy steps in mind when you spot the first signs of heat illness. Acting as soon as possible to hydrate and find cooler rest space can prevent the illness from escalating to stroke conditions.

  • Move to cool location
  • Call someone to let them know situation
  • Lie down and loosen clothing
  • Apply cool, wet clothe to as much of your body as you can
  • Sip water (avoid cola’s and caffeine)
  • If you have vomited and it continues seek medical attention immediately

If not treated heat exhaustion can lead to stroke which is life threatening.

Health and Safety for Driversthe load can wait, your health cant.

In today’s workplace truck driver health is under scrutiny. Following these tips and being aware of symptoms can be a lifesaver. Plenty of rest, a good diet and plenty of fluids will keep you healthy in all weather conditions which keeps you safer on the road. Truck driver health and safety is the most important. Here at Paramount Freight we remind our drivers that a delivery can wait until it can be delivered safely. We are proud of our safety program that is focused on drivers health. Driver’s when illness from heat or any source occurs, seek out help, rest and contact your dispatcher.

The load can wait, your health can’t. (Tweet this)

Paramount is a 100% owner operator fleet. Our drivers and their health is important. We know healthy drivers are safe drivers and that moves freight safely and on time. If you are interested in leasing on with a fleet where driver safety comes first, contact us here through our website.


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