Summer is here and while that means nice weather and mojitos by the pool, it also means taking extra precautions to stay safe while you’re working in the hot sun all day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, workers who are over 65 years of age, overweight, have heart disease or high blood pressure, or take medications that may be affected by extreme heat are most at risk for heat stress.
If you work outdoors, take special care to incorporate these five tips into your day-to-day work routine:
Stay hydrated. Drinking water when working in the sun is non-negotiable. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends drinking small amounts of water often, about four cups of water every hour while the heat index is 103 to 115 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also stay hydrated by avoiding caffeinated, sugary drinks and alcohol and adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet.
Take frequent breaks. In addition to ensuring your drinking enough water, take plenty of breaks throughout the day. Knowing your limits and working at a steady pace are key to avoiding excessive stress on your body while you’re working in the extreme heat. When you’re taking breaks, use a damp rag on your face and neck to regulate your body temperature.
Wear protective clothing. Avoid wearing dark colored clothing while working in the heat. Instead, opt for lightweight, light-colored clothing that is breathable and protects your body against the heat. If your clothing gets damp, it’s recommended that you change your clothing.
Use sunscreen. Did you know that just wearing sunscreen will decrease the risk of developing skin cancer, according to Francesca Fusco, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York MD? Apply an SPF 30 or higher, water-resistant sunscreen 30 minutes before you venture outside, reapplying every two hours while exposed to the sun. Sunscreen will not only protect against UV rays, but also against other sun damage that could cause discoloration, dark spots, sagging and leathery skin, and wrinkles.
Be alert of the signs of heat stress. Heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, heat rash…working under the hot sun is dangerous if you’re not taking the right precautions. Make sure you’re continually checking for signs of heat-related disorders, like dry, red skin, blisters, high body temperature, dizziness or confusion, slurred speech, chills, muscle cramps, clammy skin, and so on. If you or any of the other workers are exhibiting any of these symptoms, it’s time to take action.