Heat Stress: How to Protect Yourself Work and At Home

Summer is here! Time to grab your bathing suit and hit the beach, plant some seeds in the garden, or perhaps tackle that big summer project. And while the rising temperatures and sunny days encourage us to stay outside, soaking up every ray, it’s important to remember too much of a good thing can lead to trouble.

What is heat stress?

Heat stress occurs when an individual's core body temperature reaches a temperature above 100.4 degrees fahrenheit. Heat stress can affect anyone, no matter age, gender, or body type.

Causes of heat stress

Common causes of heat stress are high temperatures and humidity, strenuous physical activity, direct contact with hot objects, proximity to radiant heat sources, and working in enclosed areas. Additionally, since the body relies on sweat and blood circulation to cool down, dehydration is a major cause behind the severity of heat stress. Common signs of dehydration include dizziness, thirst and dark yellow urine.

Factors affecting heat stress

Age: Elderly individuals and infants are more susceptible to heat stress as a result of reduced ability to handle heavy sun exposure.

Weight: Being overweight can increase the amount a person sweats, resulting in a higher chance of becoming dehydrated quickly. On the flip side, a low body fat percentage improves circulation and therefore provides better circulation for releasing heat.


Preventing heat stress is as simple as taking the time to listen to your body and thinking ahead. The best clothes to wear while working in the sun are loose, light fabric clothes that allow for sweat circulation. Stay hydrated and take breaks frequently to make sure you are getting out of direct sunlight. If you plan on working outside or will be around others who work outside for extended period of time, take a heat stress first aid course.

While the sun can be a blessing, it’s smart to know how to protect yourself from it. So go out and build that deck or plant your garden...just make sure the lemonade is handy.

Image Credit: camerabee on Flickr