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Heat Stress
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Individual Differences

Individuals differ in their response to heat. Some workers are at greater risk for heat disorders. The reasons include inherited differences in heat tolerance and sweat rate. Excess body weight raises metabolic heat production. Illness, drugs, and medications can also influence your body's response to work in a hot environment. Check with your physician or pharmacist if you are using prescription or over-the-counter medications, or if you have a medical condition.

You should always train and work with a partner who can help in the event of a problem. Remind each other to drink lots of fluids and keep an eye on each other. If your partner suffers a heat disorder, start treatment immediately.



  • Improve or maintain aerobic fitness
  • Acclimate to the heat

On the Job

  • Be aware of conditions (temperature, humidity, air movement)
  • Take frequent rest breaks
  • Avoid extra layers of clothing
  • Pace yourself






  • Before work--drink several cups of water, juice, or a sport drink
  • During work--take frequent fluid breaks*
  • After work keep drinking to ensure rehydration
  • Remember, only you can prevent dehydration


  • Always work or train with a partner
* Sport drinks with carbohydrates and electrolytes encourage fluid intake, provide energy, and diminish urinary water loss. The carbohydrates also help maintain immune function and mental performance during prolonged arduous work. Drinks with caffeine and alcohol interfere with rehydration by increasing urine production. For more information consult: Sharkey, Brian J., Fitness and Work Capacity (order NFES No. 1596), available from NIFC c/o Great Basin Cache Supply, 3833 South Development Ave., Boise, ID 83705.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or family status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs). Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, etc) should contact USDA's TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and TDD). To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, Room 326-W, Whitten Building, 14th and Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (202) 720-5964 (voice or TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

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