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Illinois workers beware of heat illness as summer approaches

The American south is not the only place where workers are at risk for heat illnesses. It gets very hot right here in Illinois during the summer, especially for those who toil in the great outdoors or work near extreme heat. With summer on fast approach, temperatures are already soaring. It is time to think about prevention so that you do not succumb to the dangers of heat exposure.

Heat illness comes in several forms. Below is a brief outline of these illnesses and a few of their symptoms.

-- Heat cramps: pain, spasms or cramps in the legs, arms and abdomen

-- Heat exhaustion: rapid heartbeat, fast and shallow breathing, weakness, fatigue, dizziness and nausea

-- Heat stroke: high body temperature, profuse sweating or dry skin, throbbing headache, confusion and seizures or coma

Heat stroke is an extremely dangerous condition and can be life threatening. Victims of heat stroke need immediate medical attention. Those working nearby should move the victim to a cool and shaded area, remove extra clothing and apply water to the victim's skin while waiting for medical aid.

By increasing your awareness of heat illnesses and their symptoms, you can reduce your risk of getting sick. Monitor your physical condition at all times, drink plenty of water, wear loose and light-colored clothing and take plenty of breaks from strenuous activity, preferably in a shady location.

Like other work-related illnesses, heat sickness is covered by workers' compensation. This means that if you must seek medical treatment or you suffer from lost wages because of your condition, you are entitled to benefits under the workers' compensation system. An attorney can help if you have trouble filing a claim or if your claim is denied.

Source: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, "Protecting Yourself from Heat Stress," accessed April 24, 2017

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