MyLU Insider

Mark Musser

Author: Mark Musser

Walk Like a Penguin – Icy Conditions

We are walking every day at work, taking hundreds and sometimes thousands of steps per day; how do we stay on our feet while conditions or walking surfaces change? Whether we are walking inside a building after just walking through the rain or snow or walking across a snow-covered parking lot that might be hiding ice, we must pay attention to our center of gravity, pace, and stride.

Penguins slowly moving.

Safety Tips for Devices with Lithium-Ion Batteries

In this #FDNYSmart video, Captain Michael Kozo shares important safety tips that will help raise awareness of the safe ways to charge, store, and dispose of rechargeable and lithium-ion batteries or the devices powered by them.


FDNYSmart Safety Tips for Devices with Lithium-Ion Batteries

Lithium-Ion batteries are used in various devices. These batteries are commonly used in cell phones, laptops, tablets, electric cars, and scooters. Lithium-ion batteries store a large amount of energy and can pose a threat if not treated properly. Like any product, a small number of these batteries are defective. They can overheat, catch fire, or explode.

Be #FDNYSmart if using any devices powered by lithium-ion batteries:

  • When purchasing devices, be sure that the equipment has the Underwriters Laboratories Mark. The UL mark shows that the product has been safety tested.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for charging and storage.
  • Do not charge a device under your pillow, on your bed, or on a couch.
  • Always use the manufacturer’s cord and power adapter made specifically for the device.
  • Keep batteries/devices at room temperature. Do not place in direct sunlight.
  • Store batteries away from anything flammable.
  • If a battery overheats or you notice an odor, change in shape/color, leaking, or odd noises from a device discontinue use immediately. If safe to do so, move the device away from anything that can catch fire and call 9-1-1.

Battery Disposal:

  • Putting lithium-ion batteries in the trash or recycling at home is illegal.
  • Recycle batteries by taking them to a battery recycling location or visiting for disposal instructions is always the best option.
  • Individually bag batteries or tape ends before disposing of them.

Emergency Exits, Fire Doors and Fire Lanes

Before an Alarm sounds…

Know where your building exits are located, including secondary routes.

Stairwell fire doors must remain closed (except for fire doors that are held open by magnets that release to close doors during an alarm condition).

Fire door notice to keep door closed.

Note: All stairwell doors are fire rated doors (If blocked open for moving large items – close immediately afterwards)

Hallways and exits must be kept clear of obstructions.

Emergency Exit and path of Egress blocked – item was moved outside bar area for floor cleaning.

           Exit doors, fire extinguisher, and electrical panel.

All campus fire lanes must be clear of parked vehicles, there is an exception for Facilities Operations service vehicles for short periods of time when performing building and equipment related tasks.

Vehicles parked in NO PARKING FIRE LANE area

By keeping entrances, and fire lanes clear and accessible we will provide the required access for emergency responders.

Recognizing and Avoiding Aggressive Drivers 

Aggressive driving is any unsafe behavior performed purposely with ill intent or disregard for safety that puts other drivers or property at risk. It is a moving violation subject to fines or jail time. Examples of aggressive driving include:

  • speeding in heavy traffic and/or driving too fast for road conditions;
  • tailgating and/or cutting in front of another driver, then slowing down;
  • running red lights, speeding up through yellow lights or running stop signs (most dangerous);
  • weaving in and out of traffic and changing lanes without signaling;
  • blocking cars attempting to pass or change lanes; or
  • passing a vehicle on the wrong side of the road.

Some people drive aggressively because they have too much to do and are “running late” for work, school, their next meeting, lesson, soccer game, or other appointment.

Speeding is a type of aggressive driving that often includes many other unsafe behaviors including: tailgating, frequent unsafe lane changes, running red lights or stop signs, and often become angry at anyone who they believe impedes their progress.

Speed also affects your safety even when you are driving at the speed limit but too fast for road conditions, such as during bad weather, during traffic congestion when a road is under repair, or in an area at night that isn’t well lit.

Speeding endangers not only the life of the speeder, but all of the people on the road around them, including law enforcement officers. In 2020, speeding was a contributing factor in 29% of all traffic fatalities.

Speeding catches up with you, car damage after a crash with tree.

Extreme cases of aggressive driving escalate to road rage, which can end in violence. Road rage behaviors (other than shouting or inappropriate gesturing) is a criminal offense. Examples of road rage include any of the following behaviors:

  • cursing or making rude or obscene gestures at other drivers;
  • throwing objects at another vehicle;
  • ramming or sideswiping a vehicle;
  • forcing a driver off the road; or
  • physically assaulting a driver.

Once you’ve identified an aggressive driver, the safest thing that you can do is to avoid them.

Use your mirrors and peripheral vision to actively monitor the area around your vehicle. When you see a vehicle being driven aggressively make a mental note of the vehicle and its position. Stay alert to the likelihood that driver may create hazards that you’ll need to deal with.

When you see an aggressive driver, make your avoidance plan. Most often, the best solution is to let them go ahead. Find a safe place, adjust your lane position a little so they can see the way past you is clear. You may want to gently reduce your speed to encourage them to pass.

Avoid Confrontation

Remaining calm and courteous behind the wheel of a vehicle lowers a driver’s risk of an unpleasant confrontation or negative driving encounter.

Upset driver with a clinched fist.

Avoid eye contact. Eye contact with aggressive drivers increases the chance of confrontation. Steer clear and ignore angry drivers, when possible. Keep the encounter as impersonal as possible.

Do not respond to aggression with aggression.
Traffic problems and drivers’ behaviors are not a personal challenge or an affront. Avoid becoming reactive. Get out of the other drivers’ way as soon as safely possible.

Be tolerant and forgiving. Another driver may be having a really bad day. Always assume their behavior is not personal.

While drivers have no control over others on the road, they can control their behaviors and reactions to circumstances around them. Staying alert, remaining calm, and obeying the rules of the road can help decrease aggressive driving and avoid the dangers of road rage.

Avoid Actions that Provoke Others

Avoid tailgating.
Give other drivers room on the road. Leave at least a two-second cushion between vehicles to provide enough room to stop in an emergency and to give other drivers room to change lanes, if needed. Having a safety zone of at least two seconds between your car and the next vehicle is recommended during normal driving conditions. Bad weather, traffic conditions, and personal preferences could all require the safety zone to be larger.

Never drive in the passing lane.
The left lane of multi-lane roadways is the passing lane for use when passing another vehicle. After passing a vehicle, move back into a driving lane when both headlights of the passed vehicle are visible in the rear view mirror.

Let drivers pass.
Avoid obstructing the flow of traffic even when going the speed limit. Always allow faster traffic to pass. Never challenge an aggressive driver by speeding up, slowing down, or attempting to hold the same position. Avoid causing another driver to change their speed or direction. Never force a driver to use their brakes or turn their steering wheel.

Use turn signals appropriately.
Use turn signals when merging, changing lanes, or turning. Check blind spots before merging or switching lanes to ensure other drivers are not cut off. Do not speed. Speeding increases the chances of a driver losing control of a vehicle. It is a contributing factor in more than one-quarter of all traffic fatalities.

Use the horn and headlight high beams responsibly.
Tap the horn only when needed but avoid the long blasts and accompanying hand gestures. On an expressway, two brief flashes of high beams are acceptable to request a slow driver in a passing lane to move. Do not use repeated high beam flashes or use steady high beams to make a slow vehicle move or go faster. When driving at night, dim headlights when approaching head-on traffic.

Let drivers merge.
Whether merging or yielding the right of way, drive courteously to avoid a confrontation. When in doubt let, the other vehicle go first.

Consider others in parking lots.
Park in one spot, not across multiple spaces. Take care not to hit cars with the
vehicle’s door or with nearby shopping carts.

How to Avoid Becoming an Aggressive Driver

Make a plan and give yourself enough time to get where you are going. Not knowing where you’re going or not having enough time to get there are among the most common reasons for aggressive driving behaviors. Avoid those traps: think about the route you’re going to take and make a trip plan with a realistic schedule. Make adjustments when trips don’t proceed exactly as planned. Don’t take your problems and frustrations with you into the car. Getting behind the wheel when you’re upset, frustrated or angry can be an invitation to poor driving behaviors. Remember speed limits are put in place to protect all road users.


What you should do before lifting

Planning ahead before lifting items can reduce the possibility of experiencing a material handling injury. Here is a list of tips to follow to ensure that you are lifting in a safe manner.

  • Always check before lifting to see if mechanical aids such as lift trucks, dollies or carts are available (if the lifting task involves moving items from one floor level to another use an elevator if available instead of the stairs).
  • Get help with heavy or awkward loads.
  • Assess and identify the weight of the load.
  • Be sure that you can lift the load without over-exertion.
  • Be sure that the load is “free” to move.
  • Check that the contents of the load are stable and balanced. Repack items so the contents will not shift, where possible.
  • Check that the planned location of the load is free of obstacles and debris.
  • Be sure that the path to the planned location of the load is clear. Grease, oil, water, litter and debris can cause slips and falls.
  • Particular handling and lifting techniques are needed for different kinds of loads or materials being handled (for example, compact loads, small bags, large sacks, drums and barrels, cylinders, sheet materials like metal or glass). Check here or on materials for details
  • Do not lift if you are not sure that you can handle the load safely.

If you are ready – prepare for the lift by warming up the muscles.

You can follow along with Nerd Fitness Senior Coach Staci Ardison for about 4 minutes, this warm-up video of exercises will elevate your heart rate (get your blood flowing), put your muscles and joints through their range of motion to warm them up and make sure everything is functioning properly, and prepare your body to lift.

(Note: you can skip the jump rope and mountain climbers’ exercises)

Beginner Dynamic Warm-up Exercises [4:31]

Now that your warmed up, follow these general tips for lifting

  • Stand close to the load and face the way you intend to move.
  • Use a wide stance to gain balance.
  • Be sure you have a good grip on the load.
  • Keep arms straight.
  • Tighten abdominal muscles.
  • Tuck chin into the chest.
  • Initiate the lift with body weight.
  • Lift the load as close to and as centered to the body as possible.
  • Lift smoothly without jerking.
  • Avoid twisting and side bending while lifting.
  • Avoid carrying loads with only one hand.

Eye on Safety – Lifting Items at Work – Video (skip adds after 5 seconds)

Lifting objects is a common activity in many workplaces. If not done properly, there are many ways you can be injured while lifting objects at work. In this video, we are going to show you some good lifting techniques and share some tips to help you minimize the risk of injury.

Eye on Safety – Images of Lifting at Work

Sources:  ,; 

Hazard Communication – A Guide to Symbols

Not following warning labels can be hazardous to your health and the health of those around you. Products containing hazardous chemicals can cause severe injuries or make you sick. Over exposure to some chemicals can also kill you.

Warning labels are worthless if you don’t read them or understand them. OSHA has adopted a standardized system of labeling to help you identify hazards. Make sure you know what to look for and what the symbols mean. 

Note: Hazardous products with these pictograms can be safely worked with if the safety precautions, proper storage, and handling practices are followed. 

Recognize the symbols used on labels

Flame: A gas, liquid or solid product that can burst into flame.
  • Common flammable chemicals include:
  • Gasoline or diesel fuel
  • Solvents
  • Thinners and adhesives
  • Some can catch fire without air, when heated, or coming into contact with water
Flame Over Circle: The ring or “O” stands for oxidizer. Products that are oxidizers are not flammable. Oxidizers cause other materials to burst into flame.
  • Most common oxidizers – Hydrogen Peroxide. Being a strong oxidizer, reactions with H2O2 tend to produce heat and generate oxygen gas(O2). It is that reason why hydrogen peroxide is closely monitored at concentrations above 32% by the U.S government. Oxygen – Compressed gas in a cylinder in laboratory settings (pure gases or mixtures with an oxidizing power greater than 23.5%).
Corrosion: (hand or material eroding upon contact) These products can damage your skin, causing redness, burns, blisters, and dermatitis. They can also damage your eyes. These products are also corrosive to metal.
  • Many cleaners are corrosive with a high pH 11-13 (Base) or a low pH 1-3 (Acid)
  • Chlorine bleach pH 11-13
  • Liquids that clean clogged drains, sinks, toilets pH 1-3
  • Lime and scale removers (Tub & Tile Cleaners) pH 11-13
Skull and Crossbones – Toxic:  These products poisonous. They can make you sick or kill you.
  • Commonly used toxic chemicals (if swallowed) include:
  • Antifreeze
  • Bleach
  • Drain Cleaners
  • Ammonia (can produce a toxic gas if mixed with other chemicals)
Health Hazard: These products can seriously damage your health. They can cause cancer, damage organs, negatively affect fertility and unborn children, kill you if swallowed.
  • When you are working with materials displaying the health hazard symbol, follow proper safety procedures and precautions to prevent short-term and long-term damage to your health.
  • Asbestos
  • Lead
  • Welding fumes – Hexavalent Chromium
Exclamation Point: These products can hurt you if they are breathed in or swallowed. They can irritate your eyes and skin, and make it hard to breathe. Some products can also make you dizzy or sleepy.
  • The solution is harmful, but it will not cause immediate damage upon contact with materials. Products with this symbol require proper ventilation, and usage to prevent injury
Gas Cylinder: This means the container hold gasses under pressure.
  • If the container is damaged, the gas can be released, causing a fire of explosion. The container can act like a missile when it explodes and can injure people in its path.
  • If the gas is poisonous it can make you or others nearby sick or it may cause death.
  • Check the cylinder labels carefully for other pictograms – Flammable – Oxidizer.
Exploding Bomb: These products are explosive – like dynamite. They can be a solid or liquid.

A sample of a Globally Harmonized System (GHS) label can be found below:

Elements of a Globally Harmonized System (GHS) label, product identifier, signal word, pictogram, hazard statements, precautionary statements.
Example: Gasoline Label – GHS Format (same product as before, you just have to pay twice as much now)

Example of chemical product labels used at Lawrence University.

Commonly used by custodians on campus.
Image of a Super Concentrated Glass & Hard Surface Cleaner labels – side label has corrosion symbol.
Bromicide Tablets label and symbols – OXIDIZER, CORROSION

Besides these Hazard Communication Symbols on labels, Safety Data Sheets can provide more detail on the hazards of a product. It will contain hazard statements and precautionary statements you can follow to work safely with the product.

Source: The Center for Construction Research and Training, “Hazard Alert – Hazard Communication A Guide to Symbols”.

Using Portable Generators Safely

There are specific hazards inherent with the use of generators that must be addressed to ensure that workers and others using such equipment remain safe.

Portable generators are internal combustion engines used to generate electricity and they are useful when temporary or remote power is needed. They are commonly used during cleanup and recovery efforts following disasters such as severe storms, tornadoes, etc.

Side view of electrical outlets on a portable generator.

Hazards Associated with Generators

  • Shocks and electrocution from improper use of power or accidentally energizing other electrical systems.
  • Carbon monoxide from a generator’s exhaust.
  • Fires from improperly refueling a generator or inappropriately storing the fuel for a generator.
  • Noise and vibration hazards.

Shock and Electrocution
The electricity created by generators has the same hazards as normal utility-supplied electricity. It also has some additional hazards because generator users often bypass the safety devices (such as circuit breakers) that are built into electrical systems. The following precautions are provided to reduce shock and electrocution hazards:

  • Never attach a generator directly to the electrical system of a structure (home, office, trailer, etc.) unless a qualified electrician has properly installed the generator with a transfer switch. Attaching a generator directly to a building electrical system without a properly installed transfer switch can energize wiring systems for great distances. This creates a risk of electrocution for utility workers and others in the area.
  • Always plug electrical appliances directly into the generator using the manufacturer’s supplied cords or extension cords that are grounded (3-pronged). Inspect the cords to make sure they are fully intact and not damaged, cut or abraded. Never use frayed or damaged extension cords. Ensure the cords are appropriately rated in watts or amps for the intended use. Do not use underrated cords—replace them with appropriately rated cords that use heavier gauge wires. Do not overload a generator; this can lead to overheating which can create a fire hazard.
  • Use ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), especially where electrical equipment is used in or around wet or damp locations. GFCIs shut off power when an electrical current is detected outside normal paths. GFCIs and extension cords with built-in GFCI protection can be purchased at hardware stores, do-it-yourself centers, and other locations that sell electrical equipment. Regardless of GFCI use, electrical equipment used in wet and damp locations must be listed and approved for those conditions.
  • Make sure a generator is properly grounded and the grounding connections are tight. Consult the manufacturer’s instructions for proper grounding methods.
  • Keep a generator dry; do not use it in the rain or wet conditions. If needed, protect a generator with a canopy. Never manipulate a generator’s electrical components if you are wet or standing in water.
  • Do not use electrical equipment that has been submerged in water. Equipment must be thoroughly dried out and properly evaluated before using. Power off and do not use any electrical equipment that has strange odors or begins smoking.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, toxic gas. Many people have died from CO poisoning because their generator was not adequately ventilated.

Never use a generator indoors or in enclosed spaces such as garages, crawl spaces, and basements. NOTE: Open windows and doors may NOT prevent CO from building up when a generator is located in an enclosed space.

  • Make sure a generator has 3 to 4 feet of clear space on all sides and above it to ensure adequate ventilation.
  • Do not use a generator outdoors if its placement near doors, windows, and vents could allow CO to enter and build up in occupied spaces.
  • If you or others show symptoms of CO poisoning—dizziness, headaches, nausea, tiredness—get to fresh air immediately and seek medical attention. Do not re-enter the area until it is determined to be safe by trained and properly equipped personnel.
Danger – portable generator placed near an open window.

Fire Hazards

  • Generators become hot while running and remain hot for long periods after they are stopped. Generator fuels (gasoline, kerosene, etc.) can ignite when spilled on hot engine parts.
  • Before refueling, shut down the generator and allow it to cool.
  • Gasoline and other generator fuels should be stored and transported in approved containers that are properly designed and marked for their contents, and vented.
  • Keep fuel containers away from flame producing and heat generating devices (such as the generator itself, water heaters, cigarettes, lighters, and matches). Do not smoke around fuel containers. Escaping vapors or vapors from spilled materials can travel long distances to ignition sources.
  • Do not store generator fuels in your home.Store fuels away from living areas.

Noise and Vibration Hazards

  • Generator engines vibrate and create noise. Excessive noise and vibration could cause hearing loss and fatigue that may affect job performance.
  • Keep portable generators as far away as possible from work areas and gathering spaces.
  • Wear hearing protection if this is not possible.

Portable Generator Safety Virtual Demonstration

Jun 24, 2011. A portable generator can be a powerful tool during a power outage or natural disaster, but it can also be dangerous — even deadly — if not properly installed and operated. On average, 75 people are killed in the United States each year by carbon monoxide associated with the use of generators. Make sure you know how to use generators safely before you put yourself — and your loved ones — at risk.

Portable generator safety video screenshot

Sources: Sources: OSHA Fact Sheet – Using Portable Generators Safely and Video

Lightning Safety Tips

Learn indoor and outdoor safety tips to protect yourself and your loved ones from lightning.

Image of a lightning strike from National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) flyer.

Go Indoors.
Remember the phrase, “When thunder roars, go indoors.” If you hear thunder, you are within striking distance of lightning. Find a safe, enclosed shelter when you hear thunder. Safe shelters include homes, offices, shopping centers, and hard-top vehicles with the windows rolled up. Wait at least 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder before leaving your shelter. 

Indoor Safety Tips

Even though your home is a safe shelter during a lightning storm, you might still be at risk. About one-third of lightning-strike injuries occur indoors. Here are some tips to keep safe and reduce your risk of being struck by lightning while indoors.

Avoid water.
Do NOT bathe, shower, wash dishes, or have any other contact with water during a thunderstorm because lightning can travel through a building’s plumbing. The risk of lightning traveling through plumbing might be less with plastic pipes than with metal pipes. However, it is best to avoid any contact with plumbing and running water during a lightning storm to reduce your risk of being struck.

Don’t touch electronic equipment.
Do NOT use anything connected to an electrical outlet, such as computers, laptops, game systems, washers, dryers, or stoves. Lightning can travel through electrical systems, radio and television reception systems, and any metal wires or bars in concrete walls or flooring. Equip your home with whole-house surge protectors to protect your appliances.

Avoid windows, doors, porches, and concrete.
Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches. Do NOT lie on concrete floors or lean on concrete walls during a thunderstorm. Lightning can travel through any metal wires or bars in concrete walls or flooring.

Don’t use corded phones.
Corded phones are NOT safe to use during a thunderstorm. Do NOT use them. However, it is safe to use cordless or cellular phones during a storm.

Outdoor Safety Tips

Although no place outside is safe during a thunderstorm, you can minimize your risk by assessing the lightning threat early and taking appropriate actions. The best defense is to avoid lightning. Here are some outdoor safety tips that can help you avoid being struck by lightning.

Be aware.
Check the weather forecast before participating in outdoor activities. If the forecast calls for thunderstorms, postpone your trip or activity, or make sure suitable safe shelter is readily available.

Seek shelter immediately, even if caught out in the open.
If you are caught in an open area, act quickly to find shelter. The most important action is to remove yourself from danger. Crouching or getting low to the ground can reduce your chances of being struck, but it does not remove you from danger.

Avoid open spaces.
Immediately get out and stay away from open spaces such as golf courses, parks, playgrounds, ponds, lakes, swimming pools, and beaches. Get off of elevated areas such as hills, mountain ridges, or peaks.

Don’t stay in open vehicles.
During a thunderstorm, avoid open vehicles such as convertibles, motorcycles, and golf carts.

Don’t stay in open structures.
Avoid open structures such as porches, gazebos, baseball dugouts, and sports arenas. These structures won’t protect you from lightning.

Don’t stay near tall structures.
Avoid anything tall or high, including rooftops, scaffolding, utility poles, cell phone towers, ladders, trees, and large equipment, such as bulldozers, cranes, and tractors. Lightning tends to strike the tallest object around.

If you are out in the open water and a storm rolls in, return to shore immediately.
If you are on a boat in open water when a thunderstorm rolls in, return to shore immediately and seek shelter. If you are unable to return to shore, boats with cabins offer some protection. If caught in a storm in a small boat with no cabin, drop anchor and get as low as possible.

Stay away from objects that conduct electricity (such as barbed wire fences, power lines, or windmills). Do NOT touch materials or surfaces that conduct electricity, including metal scaffolding, metal equipment, utility lines, water, water pipes, or plumbing.

Image of a lightning strike.

People Who Work Outside are at Higher Risk

People at greatest risk of being struck by lightning are those who work outdoors in open spaces, on or near tall objects, or near materials that conduct electricity or engage in outdoor recreational activities.

The following occupations have the highest risk of lightning strikes:

  • Construction and building maintenance
  • Roofing
  • Heavy equipment operation
  • Pipe-fitting or plumbing
  • Power utility field repair
  • Landscaping

Take Steps to Protect Yourself

Check the forecast – (install a weather alert app on your cell phone)

Know the daily weather forecast so you are prepared and know what weather to expect during the day.

Watch for signs of potential lightning strikes

Pay attention to early weather signs of potential lightning strikes, such as high winds, dark clouds, or distant thunder or lightning. When these occur, don’t start any activity that you can’t quickly stop. Lightning may strike as far as 10 miles from any rain. Wait at least 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder before leaving your shelter. 

First aid

If your coworker is struck by lightning, call 911. Immediately begin first aid, if necessary. People who have been struck by lightning DO NOT carry an electrical charge and can be handled safely.


Tips for Preventing Heat-Related Illness                                                                       

Wisconsin temperatures can reach the high 80’s or 90’s in July and August, but to reach these temperatures in June is above normal. When the temperature rises so does the danger of heat exhaustion. The combination of heat, humidity and physical labor brings special hazards for those exposed to these conditions. Elevated body temperatures can cause problems as simple as physical discomfort or as serious heat stroke which can cause death. For anyone who must work outdoors or indoors where there is little or no air conditioning, a wave of extreme heat can turn the workplace into a dangerous environment.

Weather map showing Above Average temperatures for June.

The best defense is prevention. Here are some prevention tips:

If a Heat Wave Is Predicted or Happening… Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity. If you must do strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning between 4:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m.

  • Stay indoors as much as possible. If air conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor, out of the sunshine. Remember, electric fans do not cool the air, but they do help sweat evaporate, which cools your body.
  • Water is the safest liquid to drink during heat emergencies. Avoid drinks with alcohol or caffeine in them. They can make you feel good briefly, but make the heat’s effects on your body worse. This is especially true about beer, which dehydrates the body.
  • Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
  • NEVER leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle.

Although any one at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others. Check regularly on:

  • Infants and young children – require more frequent watching
  • People aged 65 or older – visit at least twice a day
  • People who have a mental illness
  • Those who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure

If you must be out in the heat:

  • Limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.
  • Try to rest often in shady areas.
  • Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat (also keeps you cooler) and sunglasses
National Weather Service Heat Index Chart showing Relative Humidity 40 – 100% and Temperatures between 80-110. Color coded to show the likelihood of Heat Disorders.

Combine the current Relative Humidity (%) and Temperature (˚F)

Examples of each Category using 75% Relative Humidity from the National Weather Service Heat Index Chart

Caution: 75% Relative Humidity and 80 ˚F Temperature = 84 ˚F Heat Index

Extreme Caution: 75% Relative Humidity and 84 ˚F Temperature = 92 ˚F Heat Index 

Danger: 75% Relative Humidity and 90 ˚F Temperature = 109 ˚F Heat Index 

Extreme Danger:  75% Relative Humidity and 96 ˚F Temperature = 132 ˚F Heat Index  


Chart showing hazard category, heat index, and possible disorders

Example of a Heat Advisory for June 14, 2022.

Figure 4.1 Examples of heat-related illness risk factors.
Screenshot of heat advisory between 1 PM and 8 PM for June 14, 2022.

Important Terms to Understand

Heat wave: Prolonged period of excessive heat and humidity. The National Weather Service steps up its procedures to alert the public during these periods of excessive heat and humidity.

Heat index: A number in degrees Fahrenheit (F) that tells how hot it really feels when relative humidity is added to the actual air temperature. Exposure to full sunshine can increase the heat index by 15 degrees F.

HEAT EXHAUSTION – Feeling weak or dizzy? Dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, profuse sweating, extreme thirst and headaches are all symptoms of heat exhaustion. Over‑exposure to heat or over‑exertion in high temperatures causes it and immediate attention is crucial.

Treatment: Get the person out of the heat and into a cooler place. Remove or loosen tight clothing and apply cool, wet cloths, such as towels or sheets. If the person is conscious, give cool water to drink. Make sure the person drinks slowly. Give a half glass of cool water every 15 minutes. Do not give liquids that contain alcohol or caffeine in them, as they can make conditions worse. Let the victim rest in a comfortable position with their feet elevated slightly, and watch carefully for changes in his or her condition. Heat exhaustion is a more serious reaction than heat stress and recuperation can take longer. Heat exhaustion victims should be treated immediately, it is usually not life threatening.

HEAT STROKE – By far the most serious heat‑related condition, heat stroke CAN kill. The importance of avoiding the level of exposure to heat that can lead to heatstroke cannot be overemphasized. Heat stroke is marked by cessation of sweating and extremely high body temperature as high as 105 degrees F. Victims are often disoriented and confused. Their skin may be hot to the touch. Effects of heat stroke also include nausea, vomiting, seizures and shortness of breath. Collapse is not uncommon and death is distinctly possible.

Treatment: Help is needed fast. Call 9-1-1, heat stroke is a life-threatening situation. Contacting emergency medical personnel as soon as possible. Move the person to a cooler place. Quickly cool the body. Immerse victim in a cool bath, or wrap wet sheets around the body and fan it. Watch for signals of breathing problems. Keep the person lying down and continue to cool the body any way you can. If the victim refuses water or is vomiting or there are changes in the level of consciousness, do not give anything to eat or drink.

Case Studies

Landscaping Case Study

A 30-year-old male landscape mowing assistant collapsed and died of heat stroke after a day of caring for residential lawns [NIOSH 2002]. Two hours before his death he had complained of feeling light-headed and short of breath, but he refused assistance offered to him by his partner. The worker was on medication that had a warning about exposure to extreme heat, and this might have interfered with body tem­perature regulation. The landscape worker had been wearing two pairs of work pants on the day he died, but his partner did not notice any profuse sweating or flushed or extremely dry skin. Upon collapse, the victim was treated by emergency medical services (EMS) personnel at the site and then transported to the hospital. There he was pronounced dead, with an inter­nal temperature of 107.6°F. On the day of the incident, the maximum air temperature was 81°F.

The following recommendations were made after the incident:

Employers should ensure that supervisors/managers monitor workers during periods of high heat stress. Identify workers with risk factors that would predispose them to heat-related illnesses. Train Workers about heat stress, heat strain, and heat-related illnesses. Stress the importance of drinking non-alcoholic beverages before, during, and after working in hot conditions. Periodically remind workers of the signs of heat-related illnesses and encourage them to drink plenty of water during hot conditions.

Construction Case Study

A 41-year-old male construction laborer was sawing boards to make concrete forms that were to be part of an addition to a factory [NIOSH 2004]. At 5 p.m. the worker collapsed in the parking lot on the way to his vehicle. He was found 30 minutes later by a factory worker, who then returned to the factory and reported the situation to a supervisor. The receptionist was instructed to call EMS while the supervisor administered emergency care to the collapsed worker. The worker’s body temperature was recorded as 107°F by the EMS and as 108°F when admitted to the hospital. The worker died the next day from heat stroke.

The following recommendations were made after the incident:

Train supervisors and workers to recognize symptoms of heat exhaustion/stroke when working in high heat index and/or humid conditions. To avoid dehydration and exhaustion/stroke, workers should be given frequent breaks and be provided drinking water and other hydrating drinks when working in humid or hot conditions. Work hours should be adjusted to accommodate environmental work conditions such as a high heat index and/or high humidity.

Work rest schedules adjusted to temperature.

Sources: Red Cross, National Weather Service