Summer Safety: 10 Ways to Survive the Heat
Heat exposure can be dangerous for anyone, but outdoor workers have to be especially cautious during the hotter summer months. Exerting large amounts of physical force while out in the sun can put you more at risk for dehydration and heat stress, both of which can lead to heat exhaustion and even heat stroke. If it can happen to people at amusement parks who are walking around and waiting in line, then it can happen to you!
Here are some quick tips on how to manage the heat when working outdoors this summer.
#1: Save the best for last. Well, save the easiest for last. If you’re working outside all day, get the heavy lifting/work done first during the cooler hours of the day. Then do the less strenuous work during the hotter hours.
#2: Embrace the farmer’s tan. As tempting as it can be to work shirtless outdoors, it is definitely best to be protected by clothing when you’re on the job. To stay cooler,wear loose clothing that lets your body breathe a bit and avoid wearing any dark colors that soak up the heat.
#3: Keep a water bucket on hand. Fill an empty bucket with ice water to keep water bottles cool or wet washcloths. Squeezing a wet washcloth on your neck or wrists is a refreshing way to keep your body temperature down. A cooler works as well, as long as you don’t mind it filled with dirty washcloths!
#4: Protect your head. We’re talking the whole nine yards here: hat or helmet with a brim, sunglasses, and definitely sunscreen. It’s important to protect your head with a lot of outdoor work in general, but the heat adds another reason to do so. Keeping the back of your neck shaded can even make the rest of your body feel cooler.
#5: Take a breather. Short but frequent breaks tend to be best when working long hours outdoors. Find time throughout the day to just take a couple minute break between tasks and let your body cool down and re-energize.
#6: Drink frequently. On your short breaks sip some cool, not freezing cold, water. You don’t have to overdo it and chug, but make sure you are sipping water regularly. It is important for you to stay hydrated throughout the day, especially in the heat.
#7: But no coffee or beer! You may feel like you need a caffeine boost or a refreshing beer here or there, but both are actually going to make you more dehydrated. Stick to water and save that beer for after work. After all, it’s a lot more rewarding working towards a nice cold one to help unwind after a long day of work.
#8: Build up a tolerance. No, we’re not talking about alcohol anymore. Instead, we are talking about building a tolerance to heat. If you’re not used to working in it, then don’t over exert yourself on your first day on the job. Be sure to take lighter work loads and work less hours while you are getting used to working in that kind of climate, instead of overdoing it right away.
#9: Rotate work functions. If you’re working with multiple people, then take shifts doing some of the more strenuous jobs. This way all of the work can continue to get done with less chance of anyone on the job suffering from heat stress.
#10: Listen to your body!!! It has some pretty important things to say. Do not ignore signs of dizziness or feelings of lightheadedness while working out in the heat. Heat has the ability to sneak up on you, so if you’re body starts to warn you that something is wrong, make sure to take a break and drink some water right away!
For signs/symptoms of heat stress to look for out on the job take a look at the Center for Disease Control’s article here. Remember to always stay safe and cool on the job!