As the temperature climbs, construction workers and others who labor outdoors are at risk for heat-related illness. Left untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, which is quite dangerous and can even be fatal.
Follow these three tips to prevent heat exhaustion when you are on the clock this summer.
Remember water, rest, shade
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration names water, rest and shade as the three most important factors in preventing heat exhaustion. According to their guidelines, you should do the following:
- Drink 4 cups of water every hour, broken up into 15-minute intervals if possible.
- Rest frequently to help your body recover.
- Spend time in an air-conditioned building or stay in the shade when you have a break.
If you have flexibility in your work schedule, try to start early and/or end late in the day. The sun is at its hottest and most dangerous between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Whenever possible, wear loose, light-colored clothing to work when the forecast predicts high mercury. Tight items made from synthetic materials do not allow your body to breathe, so opt for cotton or another natural fiber. Wear sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat. Use sunscreen of at least SPF 30 and reapply every two hours.
Seek help for symptoms
You should understand the signs of heat exhaustion so you can get help immediately when you need it. When heat-related illness strikes, you may experience goosebumps even when in high temperatures, headache, profuse sweating, nausea, fainting, muscle cramps, dizziness, fatigue, low blood pressure and/or weak pulse.
If you notice these symptoms, rest in a cool area as soon as possible. Rehydrate your body with water and sports drinks. Take a cool shower or place wet towels on your skin if possible. Call your doctor if your condition does not improve within an hour after you stop working.
Talk to your doctor about your risk for heat stroke. Adults older than 65, who are obese and/or who take certain medications are more likely to get sick when outdoors in the summer.