Working Outdoors Safely in the Heat

Important Tips for Working in the Heat

As temperatures heat up during the summer months, remember to take precautions when working outside. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that an average 618 people die each year of heat/sun stroke. If you plan to be in the sun for extended periods of time, dress properly, stay hydrated and use sun screen.

What to Wear

Typically, when people are cold they bundle up, and when they’re hot, the layers come off. However, in dry heat conditions, your body actually keeps cooler when covered up. Consider the clothing worn in Middle Eastern countries – fully dressed from head to toe. Their dark-colored robes actually absorb heat and provide more protection from ultraviolet rays than lighter- colored clothing.

The UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) indicates how much UV radiation can penetrate certain types of fabric. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends wearing sun-protective clothes with higher UPF numbers because they provide more protection from the sun.

Experts also recommend wearing moisture-wicking, quick-drying gear because they are lightweight and don’t absorb sweat.

Quench Your Thirst

Dehydration results from using or losing more fluids than your body takes in. Essentially, your body doesn’t have enough water or other fluids to complete regular functions. Moderate dehydration can be resolved by drinking liquids. But avoid alcoholic and caffeinated beverages because they can have the opposite effect and promote dehydration.

When dehydrated, you may feel extremely thirsty, tired, dizzy or confused. You might also urinate less frequently or have dark-colored urine. For extreme dehydration, seek immediate medical attention.

Sun Damage

When your skin is exposed to the sun’s harmful rays, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a 30 SPF or higher. Sunscreen should be reapplied every two hours, or more frequently if you are sweating or swimming.

Sunburn results from long, unprotected exposure to UVA and UVB rays and are classified by degree depending on the severity and how deeply the burn penetrates the skin’s surface.

When working outside in the heat for long periods of time, remember to take breaks to cool off and reduce your body temperature. If your body overheats, you could experience a heatstroke.

Symptoms of Heatstroke:

  • Core body temperature of 104o F or higher
  • Altered mental state or behavior
  • Confusion, agitation, slurred speech, irritability, delirium, seizures and coma
  • Skin feels dry or slightly moist
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Flushed skin as body temperature increases
  • Rapid and shallow breathing
  • Racing heart rate due to the stress on your heart to help cool your body
  • Headache

Seek medical attention immediately if you think you have conditions that could lead to heatstroke. The Mayo Clinic warns that if “untreated, heatstroke can quickly damage your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. The damage worsens the longer treatment is delayed, increasing your risk of serious complications or death.”

Be cautious when working outside during the hottest times of the day. Dress appropriately, drink lots of water and wear sunscreen. If you feel over-heated, dizzy or nauseous or any other symptoms of dehydration or heatstroke, seek medical assistance. Your local Premier Urgent Care office is open seven days a week, 365 days a year from 9:00am – 9:00pm to assist you.

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