A hot work day takes planning and preparation, especially when some jobs stop for nothing. Don’t show up to the job site unprepared for the heat. Heat exposure can be dangerous when it gets hot with humidity and working in prolonged sun exposures.
Working in the heat can cause heat-related illness. In addition, prolonged heat exposure can lead to heat stress. Working in these harsh conditions can cause workers to suffer from hot, dry skin, profuse sweating, elevated body temperature, headaches, cramps, nausea, dizziness, weakness, irritability, dehydration, heat rashes, confusion, altered mental statuses, slurred speech, comas, seizures and occasionally worse.
Working on hot days does not mean you have to suffer and become a victim to these harsh conditions. Instead, there are some safe and effective methods that you can take to prevent and reduce stress caused by heat, high humidity, and long hours under the sun.
Here are our top tips for staying cool while working outside in the heat.
1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
Drinking water every 15 to 20 minutes can help you stay cool and avoid exhaustion. While you’re sipping on water, be sure to include electrolytes. Mix tablets into your bottled water or reach for sports drinks. Make sure you’re drinking water and sports drinks throughout the day. Be sure to consume at least a gallon of water/drink mix during the day.
2. Protect your skin and dress for success
Be sure to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Wear loose-fitting clothing and light colors with moisture-wicking, water-resistant capabilities, and breathable long pants and a long-sleeve shirt. Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen on any exposed skin.
3. Avoid caffeine and alcoholic beverages.
Drinks with caffeine, such as coffee, soda, and alcoholic beverages, are not ideal for staying hydrated. Caffeine and alcohol will dehydrate you.
4. Eat right, eat light
Please do your best to avoid soups, teas, or heavy meat and cooked meals when it is hot outside. Instead, opt for lighter summer fare and frequent snacks consisting of cold fruits and vegetables or low-fat dairy products.
5. Fire up a fan and get misted
If the opportunity to add a fan or mister is there, it would be great to add to the job site. Temperatures are rising, and the days are getting hotter. If you can find ways to stay cool while working outside, this would be a great way to keep cool.
6. Start early
If the opportunity is there, start early and end early. The coolest parts of the day will be the earliest or the latest. If you can start early in the morning or work at night, it is ideal for keeping cooler by staying out of the middle of the day sun, which is an excellent solution to keeping cool this summer.
7. Keep chilled items in your ice chest
Add cool packs, ice packs, and chilled towels to your ice chest. Then, take a water break from the heat and cool off with a chilled towel.
8. Get acclimated
Your body will take some time to get acclimated to working in the heat. You’ll start to get used to the hot days, but don’t go full throttle into the heat and expect you’ll feel good. Instead, pace yourself and get accustomed to the heat.
9. Have an emergency plan
If someone you work with has a heat stroke or heat illness, always have an emergency plan ready. However, if you don’t have an emergency plan, work with your supervisor to plan a practical course of action to take care of you and your crew. Heat illness is no joke, and being able to handle someone dealing with being overheated will benefit you and the entire crew.
Prevention is the most desirable protection method, but make sure you and your team know where to go and the proper procedures for heat-related illnesses. Working in the heat can be safe and efficient when a person takes the proper steps to stay cool and hydrated while watching for heat stress warning signs.