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Keeping Your Cool in the Heat

Published May 21, 2018

It should come as no surprise to any of us in the construction industry that this is going to be an extremely hot next few months. With summer almost in full swing and temperatures on the rise, it’s important to remember that the heat can be dangerous if not dealt with properly.  While there is no way to completely avoid the heat, there are a number of things you can do to ensure the safety of yourself and others during the summer months. Follow these tips to help yourself and your coworkers stay safe in the summer heat on job sites:

Drink Water
This is by far the most important tip. While you should be staying hydrated year-round, it is particularly important during the summer months to ensure that you are drinking water frequently. It is recommended that you drink water every 15 minutes while working outside in the summer, whether you feel thirsty or not. Also keep in mind that sugary drinks like sodas may actually dehydrate you even more, so be sure to keep water handy at all times.

Take a Break
If you begin feeling too excessively hot, dizzy, or lightheaded, immediately take a break. These are the first signs of heat exhaustion. Prevent worsening your symptoms by finding a cool place (either air conditioning or shade), sitting down, and, you guessed it, drinking water.

Wear Proper Clothing
While your first thought may be to wear less clothing (i.e. short sleeve shirts instead of long sleeve shirts), this may not always be your best option. While you will initially feel cooler in a short sleeve shirt, your arms are no longer protected from the suns rays. This can both heat up your skin and cause severe sunburns. Instead, opt for a lightweight, breathable, moisture wicking long sleeve shirt. Many of these shirts are designed specifically for use outdoors in hot conditions and will react as a cooling agent as your body temperature heats up.

Learn the Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion
While taking care of yourself in the heat should be your top priority, you should also look out for your coworkers. Heat exhaustion is a very serious concern that can lead to permanent bodily damage and even death. Learning to spot the signs of heat exhaustion could help save a coworker’s life. Heat exhaustion symptoms include red dry skin, fever, confusion, dizziness, headache, and weakness. More severe symptoms include cramps, nausea, vomiting, and an increased heart rate. If a coworker is showing any signs of these symptoms, seek medical help and stay with that person until help arrives.