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Heat-Related Illnesses and Riders
July 8, 2010
Heat stress, heat exhaustion or even heat stroke can be caused by the inability of your body to cool itself down by sweating. This overheating can occur when your body temperature and the surrounding air are the same, or when you actually gain heat from the environment because the external temperature is higher than your body temperature. This prevents you from sweating which inhibits heat loss. It can also occur in areas where the air is moist and warm and thus evaporation from the skin is slowed or even prevented.
Individuals who work outdoors doing any kind of physical labor need to make sure they stay as cool as possible because not only are they subject to the direct heat outdoors but they are producing extra heat from the physical load. In fact, physical work demands four times the energy of work done from a chair. One’s ability to perform well, or even to feel well, is affected by an elevated body temperature and dehydration. Higher heat tolerance can be seen in a few groups of people such as younger individuals, slimmer people more so than overweight folks, and those more physically fit. Heat illnesses are quite commonly seen in young athletes as well as military recruits.
Signs of heat-related illnesses range from headaches, fainting, weakness and clammy skin to cessation of sweating, mental confusion, seizures and convulsions. How can you control heat illnesses? One should try to drink a lot of water all day long and wear a Cool Medics vest, which you would regenerate with water every few hours as needed. Cool Medics vests work on an evaporative cooling technique, once it has been activated in water. When the moisture in the fabric evaporates through the hydrophilic fibers, heat is removed which causes the surrounding area to cool down, transferring the cooling effect to the wearer. This process will cool the wearer down by 20 to 25 degrees, the effects of which can last anywhere from 5½ to eight hours.