It’s hot outside! In fact, last year was the second hottest in recorded U.S. history and the hottest in 75 years, and this year isn’t much cooler. In some parts of the country, May temperatures reached triple digits. Even the NBA champions are associated with the rising temperatures.
While the summertime is mostly associated with having fun in the sun, for many people working outside this time of year can be very dangerous. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there were more than 15,000 reports of heat-related illnesses at work between 2003 and 2009 with nearly 300 of those resulting in death. Don’t let the sun sabotage your ability to work. Here are three things you can do to keep yourself healthy during the summer months.
Get Some Cool Fuel
One of the most important things to remember when working long hours in the heat is to remain hydrated. Drinking plenty of fluids will not only keep you from getting heat stroke, cramps, or exhaustion, but it will also help prevent workplace injuries. Try freezing large refillable bottles of water overnight and taking them to work the next morning. They will stay cold all day and keep you hydrated when you need it the most.
You should also be wary of drinks with a high concentration of sugar, alcohol, or caffeine. Those types of drink will not keep you hydrated as long, and in some cases they will increase the rate of dehydration. Also, try avoiding eating foods high in protein, like meat, that increase metabolic heat production, which increases water loss.
Mind Your Medicine
Some medicines have negative reactions with extreme heat or sunlight. Make sure you’re aware of what medicines you take and the warnings that come with them. If you’re taking medication, check with your doctor for any that have negative side effects when you’re working in the heat. Discuss safer alternatives or other strategies for avoiding negative effects. You should also talk to your doctor about your working conditions whenever receiving medicine.
Get a Shield for the Sun
You may think that because of the heat, you should wear summer clothing like shorts and tank tops, but that isn’t the case. When your skin is exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet radiation for extended periods of time it can cause a painful sunburn which can contribute to skin cancer risks. Try wearing long sleeve, loose-fitting clothing and a hat with a brim to shield you from harmful rays. Wear lightly-colored or white clothing when working in the heat because lighter colors reflect light better and don’t get as hot as easily. If you have to work outside with exposed skin, remember to regularly apply sunscreen.
Working in the heat all day can be dangerous if you don’t take care of yourself. If you’re interested in learning more about how to identify and avoid heat-related illnesses, you can check out the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s resource page on beating the heat. What are some tricks you’ve developed to help beat the heat this summer?