5 Summer Safety Tips to Beat the Heat
The summer season is in full swing, and we are sharing our top summer safety tips to help you and your employees stay healthy at work and home. While the warm weather and sunshine offer ideal conditions for outdoor activities, they also come with a variety of safety concerns that everyone should keep in mind. According to the American Safety Council (ASC), excessive heat exposure can lead to four common medical problems that range from minor inconveniences to life-threatening injuries, including heat rash, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. The good news is that these conditions are entirely preventable, as long as you take precautions and stay proactive about your health and well-being.
Summer safety is particularly important for workers who spend a lot of time outside, such as those in construction, landscaping and any industry where employees are exposed to outdoor environments. Unfortunately, every year thousands of employees experience on-the-job injuries, illnesses and even fatalities because of overheating. In fact, 87 people died from exposure to excessive heat in 2017, according to the National Safety Council (NSC). That said, heat is a prevalent hazard in all types of worksites, not just those outdoors. For example, employees working in manufacturing settings are regularly exposed to high ambient temperatures given off by industrial machinery. To help you anticipate and overcome these risks, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of 5 summer safety tips to keep employees healthy both on and off the clock.
5 Summer Safety Tips to Beat the Heat
When it comes to combating heat-related injuries and illnesses, prevention is always the most effective approach. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a Water. Rest. Shade. campaign that educates employers and workers about the dangers of extreme heat and humidity and provides downloadable resources. One focus of the campaign is to spread awareness of heat exhaustion and heat stroke since these conditions are widely considered the most dangerous consequences of overexposure.
1. Know the Warning Signs
Under normal circumstances, the human body regulates its internal temperature by sweating. However, spending too much time in the hot sun performing physical activities can negatively impact this function. Losing too much water and electrolytes may lead to heat exhaustion, which can rapidly escalate to a heat stroke if left unchecked.
Common warning signs of heat exhaustion include:
- Excessive sweating
- Fatigue and weakness
- Headaches and dizziness
- Muscle cramps
- Nausea or vomiting
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to immediately move to a cool or shaded area, drink water, and remove any unnecessary, layered clothing as soon as possible.
2. Take Safety Advisories Seriously
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2016 was the warmest year on record in the U.S. and abroad, and many experts believe more record-setting temperatures are on the way. Luckily, many government agencies and safety organizations release frequent health advisories to warn the public about dangerous conditions. If you’re planning to spend time outdoors, you might want to download OSHA’s heat safety mobile app to keep track of high temperature weather conditions.
3. Drink Plenty of Water
Whether you’re at the beach or working in the hot sun, it’s crucial to replenish the liquid and electrolytes you’ve lost from sweating. While there is no set amount of water you should consume, OSHA recommends drinking at least 2 to 4 glasses of cool fluids each hour, depending on your level of exposure and the specific activities you’re engaging in. It’s also important to avoid caffeine and alcohol, since these types of beverages could lead to further dehydration.
4. Take Rest Breaks in the Shade
Air conditioning may be the quickest way to cool off, but spending a few minutes in the shade also lowers your body temperature. Prolonged exposure to the sun not only leads to uncomfortable sunburns, it also increases your risk of heat exhaustion or heat stroke and may cause you to faint. This is especially dangerous when working around heavy machinery, so be sure to take a break if you start to feel fatigued or dizzy.
5. Remember to Reapply Sunscreen
While most people think of sunburns as a minor annoyance, this form of skin irritation can increase the risk of skin cancer and also affect your body’s ability to regulate its temperature, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although wearing a hat and light-colored clothing may limit your exposure, the surest way to prevent sunburns is to put on a broad spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 before heading outside, and remember to reapply every 3 to 4 hours.
No matter what you have planned outdoors, these Summer Safety Tips will help you keep it cool and beat the heat to stay healthy and safe!