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Warm Weather Safety Tips for the Workplace and Beyond

Construction crew prepared for summer with warm weather safety tips

As residents of the Southeastern United States, we’re no strangers to heat and humidity. But with the past few years rolling out some of the highest temperatures on record, it’s more important now than ever to be properly prepared for the weather. In honor of the upcoming National Heat Awareness Day and National Safety Month, we’ve compiled a list of warm weather safety tips to follow for both in and out of the workplace.

Stay Hydrated

The risk of dehydration increases with warm and humid weather as the body ups sweat production in an effort to cool down. To help prevent dehydration:

  • Increase your fluid intake, but not too much
    • Since it is possible to be too hydrated (a life-threatening state called dilutional hyponatremia), the CDC recommends limiting your water intake to no more than 48 oz per hour
    • Eat at regular intervals or work in electrolytes if you are going to be sweating for several hours without a meal in order to help replenish sodium levels
  • Drink water before you feel thirsty, not after
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages like coffee, alcohol, and some energy drinks, which can contribute to dehydration 

Slow Down & Take Breaks

Heat can also hinder our ability to focus and react quickly, which can lead to major problems when working in an environment that requires a sharp attention span (e.g. warehouse, manufacturing plant, or construction site). Taking regular breaks in the shade or in front of air conditioning can help you cool down and recover. Avoiding overexertion, especially during the hottest part of the day (typically around 3pm), is another way to help prevent heat-related illness.

Wear Sun Protection

If you’re working outdoors, sun protection is an absolute must for warm weather safety! This includes:

  • Sunscreen that’s labeled as water-resistant and broad-spectrum with an SPF of 30 or higher. This is recommended for extended outdoor activities to prevent sunburn
  • A wide-brimmed hat to help protect your face and neck
  • UVA/UVB protective sunglasses to help protect your eyes
  • Light-colored sun shirts (or other long sleeve / long pants) to help protect your arms and legs and keep you cool
  • Gloves to help protect your hands from sun exposure and hot surfaces warmed by the sun

Know the Signs of Heat-Related Illness

Heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat rash, heat cramps, and sunburn are all preventable if you’re properly prepared, but it’s also important to know the warning signs of each in order to keep yourself and others safe. Some of the warning signs of heat-related illness are:

  • Heavy sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Blisters on the skin  


For a full list of warning signs from the CDC,
click here. Working in groups or pairs is recommended to help in the recognition and prevention of heat-related illness.

Be Aware of Other Dangers

For those of us working outside during the summer months, heat isn’t the only thing to be prepared for when it comes to warm weather safety. There is an increased risk for exposure to harmful plants, insect-borne illness, and tick-borne illness. To help protect yourself and others against:

  • Poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac
    • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants that are tucked into your socks or shoes, as well as gloves to prevent direct skin contact
    • Apply barrier creams to exposed skin
    • Have rubbing alcohol on hand, which removes the oily resin of plants up to 30 minutes after exposure
    • Know how to identify the types of poisonous plants in order to avoid them
  • West Nile Virus
    • Use EPA-registered insect repellents
    • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, or mosquito netting
    • Treat your clothing and gear with 0.5% permethrin to ward off mosquitoes 
  • Lyme Disease
    • Protect yourself from tick bites with an EPA-registered insect repellent 
    • Perform daily tick checks
    • Remove ticks from the body as soon as they are discovered (and in the correct way)
    • Shower after work and wash and dry clothes regularly
    • Watch for sudden onset of fever or rash, which are warning signs of Lyme Disease

 

While there are plenty of perks that come with warmer weather (we’re looking at you, pool days), there are also quite a few hazards. By being aware of heat-related illnesses, environmental risk factors, and your own body, you can help ensure a safe summer season for all!

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