Working in hot environments is a health hazard, but it’s also part of a day’s work in Texas.
Even though no official OSHA regulations dictate how to work in extreme temperatures, there are safety recommendations that are easy to follow. Here are four hot hacks for keeping your cool both indoors and outdoors.
Keep Drinking Water (and Electrolytes)
One of the hazards of working in a non-conditioned environment is dehydration, and it takes less time than you think to start losing fluids, especially when you sweat.
You must continue to drink water throughout the day. Use electrolyte tablets to help you retain the water and restore nutrients that come with sweating.
The best rule of thumb is to sip water all day rather than drinking a bottle or two on breaks. Once you get thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
Limit Alcohol After Work
No one wants to be told what to do after they clock out, but if you work on an oil field or in a non-air-conditioned warehouse, you need to limit your alcohol intake.
Alcohol leaves you dehydrated, which means you need to drink more water to catch up. More importantly, alcohol stays in your system for longer than you think. Heat can magnify the effects from the night before.
Plus, a hangover can mimic or hide the signs of heat illness, which can be fatal in the most extreme circumstances.
Keep Short Breaks in Regular Rotation
If you’re working in high heat, then a fifteen and a thirty won’t be enough to keep you cool or safe. Frequent breaks in an air-conditioned or shaded space will keep you feeling cool and avoid heat exhaustion.
OSHA provides a helpful guide for work/rest schedules here.
Know the Signs of Heat Illness
Everyone needs to know the signs of heat illness, even if you think you’re tolerant of high temperatures. According to the CDC, the most common warning signs are:
- Excessive sweating
- Fast, weak pulse
- Tiredness or weakness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Clammy skin
If you start feeling the signs of heat illness, you need to immediately get into a shaded or cool area and alert the first-aid trained supervisor.
Take Heat Seriously, Even in Texas
Living in Texas makes us all feel that we know what it means to be hot. While we are used to high temperatures as the year marches on, working in those temperatures is still hard on your body. Remember: most outdoor fatalities occur in the first few days of working in heat as your body acclimates to the temperatures. But you still need to drink water and take plenty of breaks, no matter how you feel.
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