Summer is a time to be enjoyed, but it is also a season that can present unique hazards to those who are exposed to hot environments, or those who perform vigorous exercises. The combination of heat, humidity, and physical labor can lead to heat-related illness. It is important to take precautionary measures to ensure your safety, especially if you work outside. Here are some summer safety tips to help keep you safe.
To stay healthy, it’s important to maintain water balance, which means that water loss must be made up for by water intake. Adults should intake between 9 (women) and 13 (men) cups per day [Source: National Academy of Medicine]. More if exposed to hot environments or vigorous exercise. You can stay hydrated by drinking many kinds of fluids in addition to water, with one exception. Drinking caffeinated beverages may increase the risk of dehydration. Drink every 15-minutes to stay hydrated.
KNOW WHAT TO WATCH FOR
In extreme heat or humidity, your body’s ability to cool itself is challenged, causing your body temperature to rise. While the body normally cools itself by sweating, during extreme heat, this might not be enough. Heat-related illnesses may result. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that heat-related illnesses, such as heat stroke (a medical emergency, requiring immediate medical attention), heat exhaustion, heat rash/sunburn, and heat cramps are 100% preventable. That is why it is so very important to know what to watch for.
Here are some symptoms to look for when diagnosing a heat-related illness:
- Extreme fatigue
- Rapid weak pulse
- Nausea or vomiting
- Rapid shallow breathing
- Muscle spasms or cramps
- Loss of consciousness (passing out)
SCHEDULE WORK AROUND THE WEATHER
It is best to stay indoors when the sun is at its most intense. Usually between the hours of 10:00 am and 4:00 pm [Source: American Academy of Dermatology]. During these hours, consider rescheduling to work during cooler parts of the day, if even possible. It is also a good idea to monitor the forecast. This will give you an idea of what the weather is going to be like for the upcoming week.
WEAR APPROPRIATE CLOTHING AND SUNSCREEN
Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect heat away from your body. It is also a good idea to wear a wide-brimmed hat along with sunglasses. If you must be outside during the heat, Consumer Reports recommends applying sunscreen with an SPF of at least 40 that contains chemical active ingredients like avobenzone, rather than “natural” or mineral active ingredients like zinc oxide. Only broad-spectrum sunscreen products can protect your skin from both UVA and UVB rays. Liberally apply sunscreen 30 minutes prior to going out. Because most products only last for 2 hours, you should continue to reapply every 1 to 1 ½ hours.
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