As the weather warms up, working outdoors doesn't become any easier. The risks to your health can become scary when the temperatures rise. Heatstroke, dehydration, and skin cancer can quickly come about if you aren’t careful. So what are some steps to take to prevent these conditions? Also, how do you remain cautious while working in the heat?
Let’s look at a few methods to stay cool in hot outdoor working conditions so that you don’t pass out from heat exposure. Having the appropriate personal protective equipment, hydration, and sunblock are just minor aspects that will help you in the long run and keep you protected while the sun’s rays beam down upon you.
Why Is It Important To Stay Cool?
It’s normal for your body to produce sweat while working in hot weather conditions. It’s how your body naturally cools itself off. When the sweat on your body dries, it carries away heat from your body’s surface, thus lowering your temperature. If you aren’t sweating enough, you also become more at risk of a heat-related illness called hyperthermia, where the body overheats.
However, too much heat exposure can still cause significant health issues despite sweating, such as damage to your organs and brain. So staying cool not only feels more comfortable but also keeps your body protected.
Risks of Excessive Heat Exposure
As previously mentioned, excessive heat can cause hyperthermia. It can also cause several heat-related illnesses, such as heat cramps, heat edema, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke. When your body experiences heat cramps, you’ll feel a painful tightening sensation in your arms, legs, or your stomach. A solution for reducing the chance of heat cramps is drinking water.
Heat edema causes swelling in the feet and ankles when you become hot. So elevating your legs can help. Heat exhaustion is when you need to seek shade as soon as possible. You experience dizziness, thirst, a loss of coordination, and nausea. You might even feel cold and clammy and have a rapid pulse. So sit under some shade and drink water. Heatstroke is the scariest condition, and your body reaches 104 degrees Fahrenheit or above during it. You also feel dizzy or disoriented. Make sure to find a cool place, put a cold compress on your neck, and call your 911 emergency line.
Methods for Staying Cool
Being at risk of potential heat-related injuries and illnesses can feel stressful, especially if you’re working on the job. So it’s vital to look over a few methods to stay cool in hot outdoor working conditions so that you stay out of danger.
Drinking plenty of water, finding shade, and eating enough are just a few things to consider while you work in the hot sun. Your body will thank you for it, and you’ll be able to stay motivated to work when you take care of yourself.
Drink Plenty of Water
Getting thirsty on the job is normal when working in hot climates. However, you should also drink water to prevent excessive heat-health risks even when you aren’t thirsty. An ideal time to drink water is about every 15 to 20 minutes. This will ensure you stay hydrated and prevent bodily harm.
Additionally, make sure you drink plenty of water on days leading up to your work shift. It’ll help prepare your body ahead of time. The best way to stay hydrated throughout the day is to bring a water bottle and refill it repeatedly. So don’t ignore your thirst cues and drink plenty of water at every opportunity.
Cover Your Body
Covering your body from the sun is essential for staying protected and healthy. The sun can become particularly punishing, so you must protect yourself adequately from the intense rays. Therefore, a general rule is to wear cool, loose-fitted clothing in light-colored fabrics that allow the pores to breathe. Additionally, this helps maintain your overall body temperature and reduces the chances of sunburn. If you wear a hat on the job, it’ll help keep you cool as well. You should also wear fire protection gloves if you work with excessive heat from flames.
As the day goes on, you may feel tempted to remove a layer or two when the sun reaches higher into the sky. Try your best not to do this, as leaving the skin exposed won’t necessarily make you feel any cooler. When your body becomes exposed to the sun, you’re more likely to experience sunburns or heatstroke. So make sure you keep your skin adequately covered and protected.
Wear and Reapply Sunscreen
Applying sunscreen is one of the quickest ways to protect your skin and keep it cool throughout the workday. But even more so, you must reapply it repeatedly every few hours, as sweat and moisture can easily wash away sunscreen and reduce the amount of protection it provides. Also, don't just slather it on your arms and legs; focus on the most burn-prone areas of the body. This includes the nose, ears, hands, and the back of the neck.
Ideally, the perfect Sun Protection Factor (SPF) is 30, which provides 97 percent protection from the sun. The purpose of SPF is to protect the body from UVA and UVB rays, reducing the chance of sunburn and skin cancer. So don’t skimp out on the sunscreen.
Take Breaks in the Shade
While you spend many hours out in the scorching sun, giving your body a chance to rest in the shade is essential for staying healthy. Take breaks in the shade as often as you can to reduce the chances of heatstroke and exhaustion.
Try to move some of your tasks to more shaded areas throughout the day and rotate projects among your crew members. Your body needs time to rest from intense heat and not go into overdrive to keep cool. Consequently, you should ensure you hang out in the shade as often as you can and get a quick drink of water.
Feed Yourself Adequately
When you're working in the sun all day, having a heavy meal sitting in your stomach will result in your body producing more metabolic heat, increasing your body temperature further. So try to stay away from heavier meals, especially those with lots of protein-rich foods.
You want to stick to small snacks and lighter meals so that you stay adequately full without feeling stuffed. Stick to leafy green vegetables, fresh fruits, and nuts to replenish electrolytes. Lastly, spicy foods can surprisingly cool you down by triggering heat receptors in your mouth, increasing circulation, and causing more sweat production.