Here’s how we helped our team stay cool in the summer heat
Life in the patch can be pretty tough – and really hot. Preparing our team for hot weather is critical to our employee’s health and safety.
So we gathered the most up-to-date research on hydration, heat stress and heat exhaustion, and shared it with our team. Now we want you to share it with your team.
When you sweat, you lose body fluids. If that fluid is not replaced, dehydration is unavoidable. Losing even 2% of body fluids (less than 3.5 pounds in a 180-pound person) can increase fatigue and affect cognitive skills.
Here’s the thing – by the time you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. If you’re not urinating, you’re not drinking enough. And if your mouth feels dry, you have a headache, your body is tired and your legs are heavy, you’re in a bad way. Don’t wait until you’re already dehydrated. Take smart steps now:
- When to drink: Drink before you start working. Trying to play catch-up for lost fluids is tough. Drink before you get thirsty and drink at regular intervals.
- How often to drink: Depends on how hard you’re working, but safer is smarter. If you’re sweating, drink at least 5-7 ounces of water every 15-20 minutes.
- What to drink: You can’t beat water. Research also shows that a lightly flavored beverage with little bit of sodium encourages you to drink enough to stay hydrated. The combination of flavor and electrolytes in a sports drink is a great choice to stay hydrated.
- What not to drink: Beer and booze are a no-brainer (course you’re not drinking on-the-clock anyway). Also, skip drinks with high sugar content like soda and even fruit juices, because they absorb slowly into the body. Also, limit your caffeine consumption…yep, like coffee (sorry.)
Dehydration isn’t the only risk in hot weather. Here are other types of heat-related illnesses to watch out for, in order of severity:
- Heat Rash: Skin irritation caused by excessive sweating during hot, humid weather.
- Heat Cramps: Painful cramps in the stomach, arm, and leg muscles caused by not replacing salt and fluids during intense, prolonged exercise in the heat.
- Heat Syncope: A fainting (syncope) episode or dizziness that usually occurs with prolonged standing or sudden rising from a sitting or lying position.
- Heat Exhaustion: Thebody’s response to an excessive loss of the water and salt, usually through excessive sweating. As heat exhaustion sets in, perspiration decreases, and skin and core body temperatures typically rise to 104°F.
- Heat Stroke: The most serious form of heat injury. When suffering from heat stroke, your body cannot cool itself. This is an acute medical emergency which is medically defined as core body temperature greater than 104°F. Nausea, seizures, and confusion or disorientation can occur. Unconsciousness, coma and organ failure are possible. Heat stroke may occur with no preceding signs of heat injury or as a progression from heat syncope and heat exhaustion.
Avoiding dehydration and heat stress isn’t just drinking more (and better) liquids. Here are some other preventative measures:
- Acclimatization: Build up your “heat tolerance.” Gradually increasing your workload and time spent in a hot environment will help lead to acclimatization (you still need to drink, though).
- Rest: Take a break at regular intervals. Don’t wait to get tired or thirsty.
- Clothing: Lightweight, light-colored. Avoid non-breathing, synthetic clothes.
- Sunscreen: Choose an SPF no lower than 30.
- Help others: You may be prepping smarter, but what about your friends and coworkers? Help check on them on hot days.
- Monitor urine: No, we’re not kidding. This is important. The darker your urine, the less hydrated you are. Drink enough liquids for a very light color.
So let’s say worst-case-scenario happens. Here’s how to respond to heat-related illness:
- Have a plan in place.
- Stop the activity immediately.
- Call emergency services. Have clear, precise directions to your location.
- Be Prepared to provide first aid.
Stay cool by being smart. Remember to take breaks, drink water, and allow your body time to cool down if you start to overheat. Be proactive, not reactive.