(Photo credit: Flickr / Ali Eminov)

[en Español]

The luscious red tomatoes and juicy peaches in your local grocery store were most likely picked by hand to prevent bruising. But that personal touch comes at a price. On hot days, the workers who pick these crops are at risk of heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and other heat related illnesses.

Linda McCauley, a professor and dean of the Emory University School of Nursing, says heat-related illness can sneak up on someone who is unaware of the signs. So it’s important to recognize the early symptoms in order to prevent serious complications or even death.

McCauley: “So you’re working in a field and you’ve started having a headache and then all of a sudden you’re starting to feel dizzy and you feel like you’re going to pass out.”

Once someone feels light-headed, quick action is critical.

McCauley: “In general, the workers don’t have any sense about how dangerous a heatstroke is – in that you have minutes. You don’t have hours.”

Heat stroke can be deadly, but it’s also avoidable. So educating workers and employers about how to recognize the symptoms is vital. And putting programs in place to protect workers will become even more important as the climate warms.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.

Samantha Harrington, director of audience experience for Yale Climate Connections, is a journalist and graphic designer with a background in digital media and entrepreneurship. Sam is especially interested...