The Delaware Farm Bureau is urging farmers to refresh their knowledge about occupational hazards, as well as warning signs and prevention tips for heatstroke, heat exhaustion and other heat-related illnesses.
“Take the time to put the sunblock on, grab the hat, drink more water. Our health as farmers doesn’t impact just us — it’s about our family and community, too,” said the bureau’s executive director Don Clifton.
The higher temperatures can sometimes mean extra work, increasing the safety risks associated with farming, he added.
“Sometimes, the equipment struggles or even overheats in the higher temperatures, like we do. But it’s not just that. The sun is very important to our land and the crops we grow, but it could be devastating if it’s incredibly hot,” Mr. Clifton said. “Too much heat and too little water, for example, could ruin our crop for the year if we don’t put in extra work to salvage what we can.
“It’s easy to think about how livestock could struggle in incredible heat situations, too. We need to be sure we’re compensating for the heat and getting our animals the things they need to make it through the day, just like we do for ourselves.”
A few tips:
Some heat-related illnesses, like sunburn, heat rashes or heat cramps, are minor and usually go away within days with treatment. But these issues may lead to or be symptoms of other, more serious medical concerns. According to the Delaware Bureau of Chronic Disease Prevention, sunburns could lead to skin cancer, while heat rashes and heat cramps could be symptoms of heat exhaustion or heatstroke. All these conditions could be deadly if not treated as soon as possible.
Symptoms for heat exhaustion and heatstroke are similar and can include fainting, dizziness, confusion, headache, muscle cramps, nausea or diarrhea, rapid heartbeat and dark-colored urine.
Sweating heavily with cold, pale, clammy skin is another symptom of heat exhaustion. This is different from heatstroke, which could cause red, dry and hot skin without sweat. Seizures and rapid, shallow breath could also accompany heatstroke.
If heat exhaustion is suspected, the person should cool down immediately and sip water but not drink a lot of it quickly. Call 911 if symptoms last for more than an hour or become worse.
If heatstroke is suspected, 911 should be called immediately. The patient should not drink anything, but they should be cooled down while waiting for medical personnel.
For information about the Delaware Farm Bureau or to see more health and safety tips, visit defb.org.