The heat of the summer is upon us, and in many parts of the East Coast temperatures have been reaching well over 90 degrees with over 100° heat indexes. These conditions can quickly become dangerous for those working outside or in places with no air conditioning. We have put together a list of ways to be sure to keep yourself safe this summer to reduce the risk of a heat-related illness.
- Hydration: Hydration is absolutely key to avoiding heat-related illness in the summer. Your body is sweating and working harder to regulate your body temperature, so you must continue to drink water, and a lot of it. The best drink for preventing de-hydration: Water.
A good rule of thumb is to drink water every 15 to 20 minutes when out in the heat. Be sure you come to work prepared with enough water to last you through the day or make sure it is supplied for your employees if you’re in management. Encourage your coworkers to continuously drink water as well so that no one becomes dehydrated.
- Cooling Methods: There are a few ways that you can continue to cool yourself off and a few items that can help you to do so. Misting or spraying off is one way to keep your body cool. Whether that be with the hose or a misting fan, putting water on your body in the heat will help regulate your body temperature. Frozen items, such as a frozen towel or a cooling towel behind the neck or on the face is another good way to keep cool. Stick it in your lunchbox or on-site coolers so that when you start to feel overheated you can try to quickly cool off. You’ll also want to wear light color and material clothing during the summer. Light color clothing helps to protect you from the heat since it does not soak up sunlight the same way dark clothing does, and the materials you dress in have a similar impact. Be sure you wear moisture-wicking, light-feeling polyester or similar materials that won’t cling to your body or hold onto extra heat.
- Watch What You Drink: While you want to increase your hydration intake, you also want to be aware that drinks outside of water can affect your body differently. Drinking too much caffeine before being outside can have a negative impact since caffeine increases your heart rate. This can make it harder to control your body temperature and harder to stay cool. Similarly, drinking too much alcohol after a long day at work can leave you dehydrated for your next shift, so you may want to lay off that as well.
- Be Aware Of Your Body: You know your body best and you’ll know when you are starting to feel sick, so don’t ignore those signs. The sooner you are feeling ill, the better is it to take action. Stay aware of heat stroke/exhaustion warning signs like dizziness, heavy sweating, rapid heart rate, muscle cramps, and headache, and alert a coworker or manager if you are starting to feel any of those symptoms. The sooner you can get out of the heat and properly hydrated the better to avoid more serious heat stroke which includes symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, confusion, flushed skin, rapid breaking, and racing heart rate.
Signs of Possible Heatstroke
- feeling unwell after 30 minutes of resting in a cool place and drinking plenty of water.
- not sweating even while feeling too hot.
- a high temperature of 40C or above.
- fast breathing or shortness of breath.
- feeling confused.
- a fit (seizure)
- loss of consciousness.
- not responsive.
Overall, you want to be cautious of your time in the heat and be sure to continuously stay hydrated and aware of how you are feeling. Don’t ignore the early warning signs. If you start to feel unwell, take a break and head to some shade or inside to cool down and always keep water nearby.