During the summer months, working outdoors can be almost unbearable. Throughout the Mid-South, it’s common for temperatures to exceed 100 degrees with the heat index rising another 10 degrees. No matter where you’re located geographically, it’s important to be cautious when spending time outdoors in the summer. To continue our 10-year celebration, here are our 10 tips to stay safe while working outside
When spending time outdoors, it’s crucial to properly hydrate your body. One way your body does this is by sweating – and your body needs fluids to create sweat. The best way to stay hydrated is to drink lots of water. Gatorade, sodas, coffee or tea won’t do the job! However, if you choose to drink Gatorade to replenish lost electrolytes, be prepared to drink three times as much water as Gatorade consumed.
Your body needs to be able to handle the stress of working in the heat. While making sure you’re physically capable of working in the sun, it’s also important to make sure your diet doesn’t prohibit your work. If you know you’ll be working outside the next day, try to avoid alcohol and heavy, fat-filled foods the day prior as both have been linked to dehydration and heat stress.
3. Find shade when possible
While the temperature will stay the same, you’ll feel at least 10 to 15 degrees cooler in the shade. One way Tioga ensures its employees stay safe and cool in the heat is by supplying portable pop-up shades whenever work is required for extended periods outdoors. Staying in the shade can greatly reduce the chance of heat stress and prolong the amount of time that can be spent working on-site.
4. Dress properly
Wearing the appropriate clothing while working outdoors can make all the difference! For example, a hat is the ultimate portable shade. Dressing in breathable clothes made specifically for the outdoors allows for ventilation to further keep the body cool as it takes advantage of any breeze you may get. Another way to stay cool is to wear long sleeves. While this may seem counterintuitive, keeping your skin out of direct contact will help prevent sunburn. There are also cooling bandanas and rags that can be kept in a freezer or cooler to help keep the body cool.
5. Wear sunscreen
Wearing sunscreen is the easiest way to protect yourself from skin cancer and sunburn. However, protection isn’t the only reason to wear sunscreen – it also keeps your body cooler by absorbing solar radiation, making you feel cooler and helping your body better handle heat stress.
6. Start early
Summertime means longer days and earlier sunrises. On most days, early mornings can be at least 20 degrees cooler. Starting a job earlier can significantly reduce your chances for heat stress or stroke. An earlier start time guarantees lower temperatures and an earlier end time, hopefully before the afternoon – the hottest part of the day.
7. Take lots of breaks
Even though it may seem more efficient to get as much work done as possible, it’s important for your safety to take breaks when working in the heat. The more breaks, the more rested the body So, relax, sit in the shade and replenish yourself with lots of water.
8. Learn the symptoms of heat-related illness
Knowing the signs of heat stress or stroke can help you identify when you or a team member are at risk. One sign of heat stress is no longer producing sweat. If you or a team member stop sweating, find shade immediately and hydrate. Another sign of heat stress is discolored, dark urine. Other symptoms of heat stress include dizziness, shortness of breath, headaches and extreme exhaustion. If you suspect you or a coworker are experiencing heat stress or stroke, immediately stop what you’re doing, find a shady area, relax and hydrate.
9. Prepare for emergencies
If there is an emergency, it’s important to know the procedures and protocol to follow. Who needs to be alerted? Having a plan avoids confusion and allows your employees to be prepared in the worst case scenario.
10. Pace yourself
There is plenty of time to get through your job or work day. It is better to work steadily and stay safe than overexert yourself and potentially put yourself at risk. A foreman or team leader will understand that heat can be dangerous and that the body has limits. While the job needs to be completed, the speed at which you finish isn’t worth your life or health. Take your time, do it right and do it safe.
By following these tips and remaining cautious, working outdoors in the summer will be easier and your team will remain safe.