National Heat Awareness Day is observed annually on the last Friday of May, which falls on May 27 this year. National Heat Awareness Day is an effort by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Weather Service to alert workers, employers, and the public at large about the (preventable) health dangers related to heat, in order to reduce the overall rate of illnesses and deaths caused by it.
This day was specially founded as a reminder that many outdoor workers or laborers are at risk of serious heat-induced conditions like heat exhaustion, dehydration, heatstroke, and even death. We bring you tips on how spreading awareness about these conditions and their prevention can help mitigate such unnecessary medical emergencies.
National Heat Awareness Day was founded by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Weather Service, an agency of the U.S. Federal Government. While there is no record of its first observance, the importance of this day and what it stands for is why we are including it.
The reality is that every year, in the U.S. alone, people suffer and die from heat-induced illnesses, which could easily have been prevented with the right protective measures and intervention. Groups that are especially vulnerable to heat are outdoor workers (like farmers and manual laborers), young children, elderly adults, people with chronic medical conditions, and pregnant women.
Heatwaves have been on the rise over the past few decades, with a definite correlation to climate change and the crisis of global warming. In the U.S. itself, recent history shows the shocking death toll due to heatwaves. While various measures are being taken to adapt to rising temperatures and humidity, there is a need for awareness to be spread in order to mitigate the losses.
Therefore, this day was created in order to spread awareness to overcome the high-temperature-related issues. This day is also observed to encourage the consumption of water to avoid heat-related illness. Americans seem to still underestimate the health risks related to conditions of extreme heat or temperatures, even though it’s the deadliest weather condition in the country. With factors like pollution causing temperatures to rise earlier each year, the onslaught of the heat of summer is coming faster every year. For this reason, it is imperative that the nation at large begins to sit up and take notice of the fact that there are many groups in need of protection from an unexpected killer.
Symptoms of both heat exhaustion and heat stroke include fatigue/weakness, headaches, and confusion or dizziness. However, in the case of heat exhaustion, your heartbeat slows down, muscles can cramp and there is excessive sweating accompanied by intense thirst. In the case of heatstroke, your heartbeat quickens, you can experience shortness of breath and your skin feels hot, with decreased sweating and urination. In both cases, the person affected should be moved to a cool, shaded location, given sips of water to drink and their skin needs to be cooled with water or ice (until medical help arrives).