Summer is upon us! This means outdoor activities and fun in the sun for most of us but it also means that many workers are going to have to deal with high temperatures and possible heat-related illnesses. Anyone and everyone can fall prey to heat stroke and heat exhaustion but it is especially important to keep an eye on older workers as well as new hires (who haven’t had a chance to acclimatize yet) because they are more susceptible.
Here are a few tips to help avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke:
- Hydrate! Even if you don’t feel like you are losing liquids, you are. Dry heat wicks the perspiration away so that you need feel like you’re sweating but you are. You should be drinking at least 32 ounces of water a hour. Try to hydrate every 15 minutes.
- Avoid working during the hottest part of the day. If possible, start early and work late when the temperatures are lower and break during the middle of the day when temperatures are at their worst.
- Prioritize your jobs. Some jobs require more physical exertion than others so, if possible, save the lightest jobs for the time of day when the temperatures are the highest.
- Take Breaks… often! And while you’re on your break, rehydrate.
- Move around. As the sun moves across the sky, so the shaded area changes. Certain sides of the building are in the sun in the morning and shaded in the afternoon. Adjust your schedule to work as much as possible in the shade.
- Watch what and when you eat. Part of your bodies cooling system is the blood pumping in your veins. Heavy meals pull more of that blood into the digestion system. Eat a big breakfast and a light lunch and avoid snacking on sweet foods that will cause your blood sugar to spike and then crash.
- Use sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
- Educate yourself. Know the symptoms of heat stress both in yourself as well as in anyone working around you and take action as soon as you spot these symptoms.
- Don’t work alone. You may not notice the signs of heat stress in yourself. Having someone else working with you who is educated about heat illness can be crucial. If you absolutely have to work alone, make sure you have a cell phone so that you can call 911 in case of emergency.