Working in the Heat: 6 Steps to Keep Safe

Now that spring has arrived, we are excited to spend more time outdoors, basking in the sunshine while eagerly anticipating the hotter weather to arrive. Some of us – like myself – work outdoors throughout the spring and summer months.

It’s fun to be outside in nature, engaged in work that involves physical activity, but the summer heat can be dangerous and will cause severe illness or possibly even death if you don’t take measures to ensure your safety while working. On a positive note, there are ways you can work in the heat and avoid heat stroke.

1. Wear a hat, preferably one that is wide-brimmed. A wide-brimmed hat will protect your nose, neck, and face from getting sunburnt. If you don’t have a wide-brimmed hat and prefer to wear a regular baseball cap instead, be sure to lather your face and neck with sunscreen.

2. Wear clothes that are light in colour and made of fabric that allows for ventilation. Light coloured clothing will deflect sunlight. Long sleeves and pants or capris are recommended, but if you prefer shorts and t-shirts or tank tops, be sure to put sunscreen onto your arms, shoulders, and legs as well.

3. Keep yourself hydrated. Drink at least two cups of water twenty minutes before starting work and every 10-15 minutes while working. Water that contains electrolytes is highly recommended as our bodies need enough electrolytes in order to function. Electrolytes regulate nerve and muscle function, hydrate the body, as well as maintain other normal bodily functions. Gatorade is a popular choice, but it contains a lot of sugar. Water that contains lemon, lime, orange slices, or a vitamin C packet are the best alternatives for electrolytes as they are all natural.

Be prepared and bring enough water to last you throughout the work day.

4. If you’re lucky enough to work near a body of water, like a lake, stream, or the ocean, there is nothing more refreshing than a quick swim on your lunch break or after the workday ends. Swimming is the best way to cool your body temperature on a hot summer day. Though, not all of us have that luxury. If you’re not working near any body of water, a cold, wet cloth applied to your face and neck every 10-15 minutes will help keep you cool.

5. Chase the shade. Before you even begin work, access the job site and decide on which tasks can be done in areas that are shady. As the sun rises, move to another shady area of the garden or job site if possible.

6. Don’t work outside during the hottest hours of the day. Begin your work day earlier and quit earlier. Morning is the best time to work outdoors as it is cooler. Mornings are also the time when we are most energetic and alert.

These tips can also be applied to when exercising in the heat. In any case, if you follow these tips, you will maximize your productivity and income earning potential. So, work smart and always keep your safety a number one priority.

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