Preparedness for heat-related emergencies is essential, but of equal or greater importance is a comprehensive heat illness prevention program. The following is a simple checklist to help guide you as you develop a sound plan.

  1. How likely is it that the people that I am responsible for are well hydrated?
  2. What is my assumption regarding their typical level of hydration (alcohol use, caffeine consumption)?
  3. Am I aware if any of the people that I am responsible for have a medical condition that makes them more likely to have a heat illness?
  4. Is there a reliable means for hydration?
  5. Are carbohydrate-electrolyte drinks needed to supplement water?
  6. Is there a plan in place to monitor hydration breaks?
  7. Has anyone that I am responsible for had a previous heat-related illness?
  8. How acclimated to the environment are the people that I am responsible for?
  9. Are there established acclimatization procedures and are they being followed?
  10. Is a urine color chart available and are the people that I am responsible for familiar with urine assessment?
  11. Is a reliable means to assess environmental conditions present and subject to the same environmental conditions as the people that I am responsible for?
  12. Do I understand heat risk categories?
  13. Are work/rest cycles being observed?
  14. Are shaded areas available for rest?  
  15. Is it possible to shade work areas?
  16. Am I choosing the best time of day for my activity, or is there an alternate time that is less risky?
  17. Do I and the people that I am responsible for know the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness?
  18. Have feasible modifications been made to attire to promote cooling?
  19. Is there an emergency action plan in place in case of a heat illness?
  20. Do I have the means to assess core temperature?
  21. Do I have the means to properly treat a heat illness?
  22. Are medical personnel available?
  23. What is the route from the location of the activity/initial treatment to an ambulance exchange point?

This checklist is an adaptation of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association’s Position Statement on Exertional Heat Illness and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Technical Manual, Section III, Chapter 4. Use this list as a foundation, but then assess your organization or activity to develop a checklist that is comprehensive and specific to you.

Shown below are some additional OSHA guidelines for training workers, monitoring at-risk workers, and planning and preparing for heat-related emergencies:

Next: Heat Index