As the summer heat sizzles across the nation and excessive heat warnings are extended, more and more workers are spending several hours per day in extreme temperatures. Workers who drive trucks are particularly vulnerable to the symptoms of dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Many trucks, including delivery trucks, construction vehicles and even recycle and yard waste trucks may have air conditioning, but it is less effective when the doors are constantly open and the heat index is near record levels.

If you are feeling the effects of the heat, it could mean you are already suffering from a heat-related illness like dehydration or heat exhaustion. It’s critical that all workers know the warning signs of heat-related illnesses. You should also be on the lookout for symptoms in colleagues, friends and family.

Most large trucks, vans, even SUVs conduct intense heat, especially when they are in direct sunlight for the majority of the day. We advise all drivers to know and heed the warning signs of heat-related illnesses and to drink plenty of fluids, especially water. The best way to hydrate is with water or a sports drink to replenish electrolytes.

Here are some warning signs of heat-related illnesses:


Thirst, Weakness, Nausea, Muscle Cramps, Dizzy, Light Headed/Irritability

Heat Exhaustion:

Heavy Sweating, Intense Thirst, Cool Skin, Fatigue/Weakness, Loss of Coordination

Heat Stroke:

Absence of Sweating, Hot/Red/Dry Skin, Trouble Breathing, Headache, Dizziness/Confusion, Weakness, Nausea/Vomiting

It is important to act quickly when it comes to heat-related illnesses. For dehydration and heat exhaustion, you should move to a cool area and drink cool water. Elevate your legs and massage any cramps in your limbs. Provide additional cooling like a fan or ice. If you suspect heat stroke in a family member or coworker, apply water/ice to the skin to cool the victim and call 911 immediately.

Author: Deborah Goza, MS, RN, COHNS, CCM
Editor: Lisa Perry