Summer has arrived in North Carolina. While it has been a mild start, it is important to not lose vigilance of jobsite safety as the heat and humidity continues to rise. In July of 2020, Charlotte Douglas International Airport reported a 19-day streak of 90 degree or higher days, tying similar streaks in 1977 and 1955. Working in such temperatures can be dangerous if you are not adequately prepared or stay aware of how you are feeling during the day.
Here are five tips for staying safe while working in the summer heat:
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! It’s such an easy solution but so many forget to do this or get lost in their work. Be sure to keep water with you at all times and be aware of the closest water source if you need a refill. Hydration is crucial in supplying your body the necessary fluids to keep everything functioning properly.
- Plan your day: Hotter days may mean earlier mornings. If you have the ability, start your day earlier in the morning when it is less hot out. Be intentional about how you schedule your breaks to allow adequate time to cool off and hydrate.
- Summer PPE: Summer work may include additional protective equipment and items to keep you cool. The addition of neck protection, a cool cloth to keep under your hard hat, a mesh safety vest, and a wide-brimmed hard hat are all wise additions to your summer attire to help keep you cool. Don’t forget the sunscreen!
- Stay healthy: The better your overall health, the better your body will be able to manage and adapt to the heat. While betterment of your overall health may be more of a long-term goal, actionable goals during the day may include a healthier, lighter meal to keep you moving and feeling less sluggish.
- Have an emergency plan: Despite all our best-laid plans, sometimes the heat will win. Be prepared and know how to respond when it does. Make sure your jobsite has a plan should someone fall ill of a heat-related illness. Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of these illnesses and encourage your coworkers to stay hydrated.
- Know the Signs and Symptoms: Heat illness can present in many forms. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms to prevent illness on the job:
- Dehydration: Dehydration occurs when lose more fluid than you taken in, or you do not intake enough water to support normal functions. When you are dehydrated, you will have extreme thirst, less-frequent urination, fatigue, and dizziness.
- Heat Exhaustion: Heat exhaustion occurs from heavily perspiring and being dehydrated. When experiencing heat exhaustion, your skin will feel cool and moist with goose bumps when in the heat. You may experience a weak, rapid pulse, heavy sweating, and muscle cramps. Dizziness, fatigue, and faintness is also common with heat exhaustion.
- Heatstroke: Heatstroke is a result of your body overheating and requires emergency treatment. If untreated, heatstroke can damage your brain, heart kidneys and muscles. Symptoms of heatstroke include: high body temperature, altered mental state or behavior, alternation in sweating, nausea and vomiting, flushed skin, rapid breathing, racing heart rate, and headache.
At Carolina Cat, we recognize how important it is to keep our customers and employees safe, especially during the summer months. We hope these tips are helpful for you to incorporate into your operations. Stay cool!
Marusak, J. (28 July 2020). Charlotte’s on a hot streak, climbing into record books one sizzling day at a time. The Charlotte Observer. https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article244541117.html
Welles, H. (11 June 2020). Jobsite Safety Tips for Summer Weather. National Center for Construction Education & Research. https://www.nccer.org/news-research/newsroom/blogpost/breaking-ground-the-nccer-blog/2020/06/11/jobsite-safety-tips-for-summer-weather?utm_source=GeniusMonkey_VT
Mayo Clinic. Dehydration. Retrieved 4 August 2020 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dehydration/symptoms-causes/syc-20354086
Mayo Clinic. Heat Exhaustion. Retrieved 4 August 2020 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/first-aid/first-aid-heat-exhaustion/basics/art-20056651
Mayo Clinic. Heatstroke. Retrieved 4 August 2020 from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/heat-stroke/symptoms-causes/syc-20353581