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5 Ways to Avoid Employee Heat Exhaustion

Hard times

Hard timesWorking at the job site in the summer heat, especially when working in tropical climates, is a dangerous endeavor. Even if you are not working, staying out of the blistering heat is always advised when possible because otherwise you may find yourself in the hospital with heat exhaustion, sun poisoning, or even skin cancer in the long-run.

Staying informed about heat exhaustion is probably the best way to avoid a potential disaster, and hopefully the following list will help you prepare for the worst.

The Best Ways to Avoid Heat Exhaustion

Wearing the Right Clothing – If you are working outside in the summer heat, make sure you pack light and wear light-colored loose-fitting clothes. Heavy, excessive, dark clothing holds in heat and will not allow your body to cool properly. In addition, sweating may become a problem as tight, dark-colored clothing aids the evaporation of sweat from the body. If you’re ever wearing a black shirt outside and begin to sweat you will notice that your shirt will dry faster in the sun than a white shirt. About 30 minutes later will begin to see white salt stains all over your body – this is an indication that you are dehydrating.

Drink Plenty of Water and Replenish Electrolytes – Hydration will keep your body sweating and, therefore, keep your body cool. Heat exhaustion occurs when your body overheats. Naturally, sweating is the air conditioning for the human body and must be fed coolant in order to work. The same applies to water – when water leaves the body in the form of sweat, it must be replaced along with the nutrients. Certain sports drinks such as Powerade and Gatorade are great replenishments for electrolytes and ultimately are essential for proper body function. When you sweat, not only do you lose water content, but also lose nutrients that are necessary to fight against heat exhaustion.

Watch Your Medication and Food – During a hot day, your body may react differently to certain medications and foods such as medications with salts, or increasing heart rate effects, or spicy foods and carbonation. Ask your doctor or pharmacist whether the medications you take make you more susceptible to exhaustion. Some reactions are based purely on environmental conditions, and you must be prepared. In addition, certain foods, such as hot meals and spices, don’t work well with hot spots. When you are on the job, bring a canteen of cold water and store it in a cool area. Hot foods and drinks increase body temperature and ultimately will cause more bodily sweat. If you want to test this fact, drink hot coffee in July on Miami Beach – I think you’ll understand what I am talking about then.

Stay Shaded and Avoid Hot Spots – Some of the biggest contributors to heat exhaustion are hotspots, which are areas that accumulate and store heat for long periods of time, ultimately raising temperatures by up to 20 degrees. In tropical climates such as Florida, this can occur in cars within just a couple of minutes. Make sure you cool down the hot spot before subjecting yourself to the conditions. In addition, stay shaded whenever possible at the job site. Working out in the heat without cover is not only dangerous but unethical by workplace safety standards. If your company does not provide shading for you at the job site, you have the right to ask.

Protect Your Skin and Direct Sunlight Exposure – Protecting your skin and blocking direct rays from the sun will help to reduce the loss of water and lower your internal heat temperatures. Usually 30 SPF is an excellent start for summer rays, but stronger is always better. A sunburn will prevent your body from cooling down efficiently and ultimately speed up the heat overload situation. In addition to wearing sunscreen, make sure you are wearing hats, umbrellas, or visors when working outside in extreme conditions. These extra layers of coverage will block the direct rays from penetrating sensitive areas of the skin, such as the face.

The author, Matthew Hall, has worked in the construction industry for years and is intimitely familiar with the dangers that such labor in the summer heat can create. To help mitigate these and other risks, he highly recommends that those responsible for the health and safety of their coworkers make their way to You can learn more about Matthew by visiting him on Google+.

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