As the temperatures and humidity soar, it’s important to keep as cool as possible, avoiding physical exertion outside in the heat. But what if you don’t have a choice? In that case, there are some steps you can take to keep yourself safe from heat stress, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke.
Hydrate and Rest
The most important things you can do when working outside on a hot day are to stay hydrated and take frequent breaks. Drinking plenty of water, especially cool water, helps your body regulate temperature best. Remember: water is best; avoid caffeine and alcohol, as they can dehydrate you. OSHA recommends that you drink an average of a cup of water every 15 minutes.
When you exert yourself, it’s always important to take breaks, but it’s even more important to do so when it’s hot outside. Try to find a cool area – either inside or in the shade – to rest as much as possible, especially if you start to feel the effects of the heat. Pay attention to your body and rest whenever it’s necessary.
Plan Your Day
If possible, plan out your day to avoid working outside during the hottest parts of the day. Try to work in the shade during those times if you can’t work indoors. You can also try to start work earlier to avoid the heat – or even work in the evening when it starts to cool down. That doesn’t mean you should try to work the entire day, but maybe take an extended lunch in order to split your schedule and work when it’s cooler out. Pay attention to heat indexes. While the average high temperature in Georgia summers is around 89° with relative humidity at around 70%, it does get much warmer on some days. OSHA has a smartphone app that you can use to see the risk levels and precautions each day. On the hottest days, you can alter your schedule or take other precautions to avoid heat-related injury.
Know the Symptoms and Have a Plan
Many times, it’s impossible to completely avoid working outside on a hot day, so the most important thing you can do is know what to watch for – with yourself as well as others.
Know when to get medical help. OSHA has a fact sheet with more information on heatstroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat rash that you can use to identify these heat illnesses and know what to do for each of them. Be sure to know what to do ahead of time, so you can act quickly, if necessary.