Common Myths of Heat Stroke

reality vs. myth

Heat stroke is referred to as the silent killer because people know very little or are often misinformed about heat-related illnesses. With the warmer weather being more seasonable, here are some common myths and misconceptions that people believe about heat stroke that lead them to make bad decisions in how to handle it.

Myth #1 – Heat Stroke Signs Are Immediately Recognizable

Most people believe that they’ll be able to recognize the signs of heat stroke and remove themselves before heat stroke sets in. The only problem with heat-related illnesses is that you don’t realize you’ve become victim to them until it’s too late.

Myth #2 – A Hot Tea or Coffee Will Prevent Heat Stroke

While it’s true that drinking a hot drink on a hot day can lower the heat stored in your body by producing sweat, the caffeine in tea or coffee can be detrimental especially when trying to prevent heat stroke. Caffeine is a diuretic, couple that with the sweat-producing warmth of the drink and it can increase the risk of dehydration. 

Myth #3 – Only Those Incredibly Active Get Heat Stroke

The absence of physical activity in the heat gives many a false sense of security. You don’t need to engage in strenuous physical activity in the heat for a prolonged period to become victim to heat stroke. Non-exertional heat stroke is a slower process and has fewer signals that go unnoticed, but as a general rule, there should never be a prolonged exposure to heat.

Myth #4 – Only the Elderly and Children Need to Worry About Heat Stroke

While seniors and children are the most vulnerable to heat-related illnesses, heat stress can affect anyone, regardless of their age. Health conditions and certain medications play a factor in how the heat affects people so it’s important to check to see how they will affect the ability to cope with the heat.

Heat stroke can occur suddenly, so it’s important to provide employees with training to recognize the hazards associated with heat stress not only in themselves but in others (most people may ignore their own symptoms until it’s too late). It’s also imperative to pay attention to the temperature outside and ensure that employees do not remove PPE on the job site to aid in their heat relief. Provide employees with ample breaks in a cool space and provide water to keep employees hydrated.