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Heat Stress

People may suffer from heat stress during hot, humid conditions. Because the climate at Texas State University is conducive to heat stress, people must take preventive measures to reduce their risk. To prevent heat stress, employees should limit strenuous physical activity during the hottest portion of the day, wear a brimmed hat when in the sun, take frequent breaks, and drink plenty of fluids.
Heat stress occurs in two forms: heat exhaustion, heat stroke, heat cramps, dehydration, and heat rash. The two most serious are discussed below:

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is usually caused by strenuous physical activity, and hot humid conditions. Because heat exhaustion is the body's response to insufficient water and salt, it should be treated as quickly as possible.

Signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion include the following:

  • Exhaustion and restlessness
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Cold, clammy, moist skin
  • Pale face
  • Cramps in abdomen and lower limbs
  • Fast, shallow breathing
  • Rapid, weak pulse
  • Falling body temperature
  • Fainting

Take the following steps to administer first aid for heat exhaustion:

  • Have the victim lie down in a cool or shaded place.
  • If the victim is conscious, have him/her slowly sip cool water.
  • If the victim is unconscious or is conscious but does not improve, seek medical aid as soon as possible.
  • If the victim is sweating profusely, have him or her sip cool water that contains one teaspoon of table salt per pint of water.

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is usually caused by exposure to extreme heat and humidity and/or a feverish illness. Heat stroke occurs when the body can no longer control its temperature by sweating. Heat stroke is extremely dangerous and may be fatal if not treated immediately.

The signs and symptoms of heat stroke include the following:

  • Hot, and dry skin
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • High temperature
  • Strong pulse
  • Noisy breathing
  • Unconsciousness

Immediately take the following steps to administer first aid for heat stroke:

  • If possible, move the victim to a cool place.
  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible.
  • Remove the victim's clothing.
  • If the victim is conscious, place him in a half-sitting position and support the head and shoulders.
  • If the victim is unconscious, place him on the side with the head facing sideways.
  • Fan the victim and sponge the body with cool water.


  • Drink plenty of fluids. Don’t rely on your thirst; drink 5-7 ounces every 20 minutes.
  • Acclimatization: adjust to the heat

·        The body takes 3-5 days to get used to the heat

·        Be careful if returning from vacation or absence

  • Choose proper clothing

·        Choose light colors and lightest weight possible

·        Select proper personal protective equipment

  • Take heat into account when scheduling tasks
  • Implement work/rest cycles
  • Conduct heaviest tasks early morning or dusk
  • Eat properly
  •  Sleep and rest

Revised May 2011
Reviewed November 2014