Most of the country is entering peak heat season right now. Here are a few weather forecast samples for the Thursday, July 24, 2014:
Phoenix – High: 114º; Low: 90º
Miami – High: 88º; Low: 79º
Dallas – High: 98º; Low: 75º
Salt Lake City – High: 92º; Low: 66º
July is a great time to remind ourselves of smart practices for staying cool, especially if you work outdoors and are exposed to the heat for extended periods of time.
What To Wear
How to dress before you go out in the heat is perhaps the first question. Here are a few tips on what to wear:
• Light-weight, and if possible light-colored, clothing. If you work in the heat all day, long-sleeved shirts and long pants provide more protection against UV rays. Avoid black clothes if you can.
• Wide-brimmed hats provide shade from the heat. However, in really hot, dry desert climates they trap heat—so in such settings, go with a bandanna for its moisture-wicking properties.
• Shoes that breathe, like sneakers. If a tough work site requires work boots, like for the kind that are ventilated to help your feet breathe and stay cool.
What To Drink and Eat
Sweating is good, but you lose water and important electrolytes like sodium when you do it. That’s why it’s important to keep drinking water or sports drinks throughout the day—and to remind your workers to do so.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommends a cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes. (Water is just as good as sports drinks as long as you’re eating regular meals and salty snacks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)
How to Exert Yourself Safely
When muscles are being worked, they heat the body up faster. Above a certain point, body temperatures are difficult to control. Therefore, the CDC says it is important that outdoor workers be allowed—and encouraged—to take regular breaks, in the air-conditioning or shade.
Common Myths, Busted
• If someone is sweating, they’re not having a heat stroke = FALSE. People can still sweat with heat strokes. If a worker is experiencing confusion, loss of consciousness, seizures or high temperature, it’s an emergency and you should call 9-1-1.
• An air-conditioning break will ruin your acclimatization = FALSE. Once acclimated to the heat, the body stays acclimated for a few days even while out of the heat.
• Your medications or health condition will not affect your reaction to the heat = FALSE!!! Some health problems that may create a bigger risk of heat illness include: diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and even common colds and the flu. Workers with health conditions should talk to their doctors about how their medications might put them at increased risk.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention