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Residents, employers urged to take precautions during heat wave

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Jul 22, 2011 at 8:00 AM

Four weeks into the summer, the nation continues to experience record heat.

The National Weather Service is calling for a highs in the 90s today through Sunday, with a heat index making it feel as high as 100 degrees.

There is a chance of thunderstorms tonight and Sunday.

People are warned to be smart -- drink plenty of fluids, check on the elderly and make sure pets have water and shade.

For outdoor workers, this means being at risk for heat-related illnesses, including heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis recommends employers take the following precautions to protect outdoor workers:

* Have a work site plan to prevent heat-related illnesses and make sure that medical services are available to respond to an emergency should one occur.

* Provide plenty of water at the job site and remind workers to drink small amounts of water frequently -- every 15 minutes.

* Schedule rest breaks throughout the work shift and provide shaded or air conditioned rest areas near the work site.

* Let new workers get used to the extreme heat, gradually increasing the work load over a week.

* When possible, schedule heavy tasks for earlier in the day.

Tell workers what to look for to spot the signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke in themselves and their co-workers, and make sure they know what to do in an emergency," Solis said. "OSHA has fact sheets and posters that illustrate the signs of heat-related illnesses, and the steps that you can take to prevent them at your work site.

"Remember: water, rest, shade -- the three keys to preventing heat-related illnesses in this extreme heat."

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