Memorial Day weekend marks the start of summer. Summer also means that if you work outside you should take extra care of yourself to avoid dangerous situations that come with working in these hot temperatures. As someone who works outside, I have unfortunately experienced heat exhaustion first hand. Here are a few reminders on what you can do to stay safe outside this summer and how to recognize when you, or someone you are working with, may need medical attention.
Dehydration: The hotter it is and the more you sweat the easier it is to become dehydrated. Of course we never intend on letting ourselves get to this point but we get busy working on something and don’t want to stop or feel like we have to finish the task before we take a break. The rule of thumb is that you should take a drink of water every 15 minutes when working outside, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Signs that you are dehydrated include low energy, dry mouth and thirst. All of these symptoms then can lead to cramping in the legs and abdomen.
Acclimate: As the temperature rises, ease into working in hot conditions over a week’s time. Take plenty of breaks and cool down in the shade as much as possible. This will help you build up your tolerance to the conditions.
Hours: Consider changing the times you work outside to early morning and late afternoon/early evening. Take a break from the heat during mid-day to run errands or complete work that needs to be done inside. Set up pop up tents around the area you will be working so you have a shady spot to rest and cool down.
Heat exhaustion Symptoms: Symptoms include: dizziness, clammy skin, headache, cramps, nausea and or vomiting, sweating and fast heart rate. To help treat heat exhaustion, have the person stay out of the heat for the rest of the day. They should try to shower immediately in cool, not cold, water and re-hydrate.
Heat stroke Symptoms: Heat stroke symptoms include: skin that is red, hot and dry, the person is no longer sweating, confusion, fainting or convulsions. If someone exhibits any of these symptoms you should seek immediate medical attention! While waiting for medical help you can try to cool down the person’s body temperature by sponging or spraying the person with cool water and remove any bulky clothing that could trap in body heat.
Hopefully knowing these symptoms and taking extra precautions will help keep you, and anyone you will be working with, safe during these hot summer months. Stay safe and stay cool!