Crystal clear and chilly high desert nights in Fort Davis give way to arid days and sweltering heat the next morning, while Houston’s balmy weather makes the most tenured Texans feel like they’re wearing a damp sweater. Whatever corner of the Lone Star State you call home, there’s something about Texas heat that you never quite get used to. Summer is here, so make note of these tips to keep you and your employees safe.
Hydration starts the night before
The best time to buy a ranch in the Hill Country was yesterday, and the best time to start hydrating for your workday is the night before. So, if it’s not water you’re drinking at the chili cook-off the evening prior to an early shift, you’re setting yourself up for heat stress and fatigue. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning nature will call more frequently and you’ll be losing water when you need it most.
Drink the right stuff
Women should shoot to consume 91 ounces of water every day and men should intake 125 ounces respectively. That number should increase if you’re working outdoors and sweating. Caffeine’s diuretic effect is difficult to judge, but it’s still associated with sodas and energy drinks that may be chock full of sugar and ingredients that negate hydration efforts. Drink water or a diluted sports drink instead.
Take this with a grain of salt
You can expect to lose 500mg of sodium per pound of sweat during hard labor. Unless your physician says otherwise, it’s imperative to replace the salt your body is losing so you can maintain homeostasis (a fancy way of describing the cellular balance between electrolytes and fluid). The best options are dietary, so reach for a V-8 in the morning or salt your food at lunch.
Capitalize on breaks
There’s a lot of value in those rare opportunities to catch some a/c and kick up your boots. Asphalt can be 40 degrees warmer than the ambient temperature, so road crews should be prepared to create their own oasis with folding chairs and shade from tents. Breaks are time to rehydrate and stave off fatigue, not “work through” at the expense of heat related illness.
If an individual can communicate clearly, but is sweating heavily, complaining of nausea, light-headedness or muscle cramping and fatigue, take action. Provide the individual sips of a cool, diluted sports drink and place ice bags on their groin, neck and beneath their armpits. Get them off their feet in a cool, well-ventilated space.
Know when to sound the alarm
Sweat evaporation is crucial for regulating body temperature, so, plain and simple, if an individual stops sweating, call 911. Contrary to popular belief, people don’t have to show progressive signs of heat exhaustion before succumbing toheat stroke. If an employee is vomiting, complaining of a throbbing headache or exhibiting signs of altered mental status, sound the alarm immediately and seek care.
If you have questions regarding how to keep your crew safe this summer, contact your local TMLIRP Loss Prevention Representative today!