Working in all sorts of conditions is just part of the job for a professional house cleaner. The following is part of the Mini Mops House Cleaning safety training program that we provide for our employees … we hope you find it useful, too.
You can’t just stop working when it gets hot, so it’s important to know how to protect yourself from heat and what to do if you or someone on your crew gets overheated. There are two main kinds of heat illness: heat stroke and heat exhaustion. They require different treatments, so you should learn to tell the difference between the two.
Both of these, if not taken seriously, can cause death to the person involved.
A victim of heat stroke has flushed, dry skin; a rapid heartbeat; loud, rapid breathing; and a high body temperature, usually at 105 degrees or more. The victim may complain of dizziness and headache, or she may suffer from confusion, convulsions, delirium, or unconsciousness.
This is a medical emergency calling for quick action. While one person calls an ambulance, others should get the victim cooled off. You should place the victim in a tub of cool water, or use a hose or wet cloth to bring the temperature down. Massage the victim’s hands and feet toward the heart to stimulate circulation of the cooler blood of the limbs. Dry the victim off when the temperature returns to normal.
Repeat the cooling process if the body temperature rises again.
A victim of heat exhaustion looks very different from a heat stroke victim. A person with heat exhaustion sweats heavily and has pale, clammy skin. Body temperature is normal. The victim may feel giddy and nervous, or she may vomit or faint.
You need to get the victim to lie in a cool place and sip cool water. Loosen the victim’s clothes and call a doctor. A victim who is unconscious or vomiting will need to be taken to a hospital to be treated with an IV.
Heat exhaustion sometimes includes heat cramps, where the muscles of the abdomen or limbs knot up and are extremely painful. This is caused by a lack of salt. You can relieve the cramps by massaging the cramped muscles or pressing firmly on them with your hands. If the victim has no other medical condition, you can give half a teaspoon of salt dissolved in 8 ounces of cool water or fruit juice.
Take Steps to Prevent Heat Illness
Heat-related illness is no fun, and it is usually preventable!
- If you are not used to working in heat, start out slowly.
- Drink plenty of water, at least 8 ounces (one glass) every 20-30 minutes while on the job.
- Do not drink alcohol or carbonated drinks — they can cause cramps.
- If you are prone to heat cramps, check with your doctor about replacing the salt you lose sweating.
- Cut heavy, high-fat foods out of your diet, and get plenty of rest.
- Wear loose, light clothing and a hat if you work in the sun.
- Pay attention to warning signs. If you do not feel well, take a break.
Above all, work smart and be cool. Avoid getting overheated.