How to Beat the Heat: Tips for Working in the Extreme Texas Heat

Although it is still technically spring, summer will be here sooner than you think. Since we have been experiencing unpredictable weather all across the country, discussing summer safety tips now is valuable because extreme heat could be only a month away. This is especially true in the South.

Often day labor and skilled labor are required to be outside.
Extreme heat poses many challenges to the safety of construction crews.

Heat stress is often linked to rapid onset fatigue, distraction, inattention to details and other deficiencies.

It can also have much more severe consequences.  The most important rule to remember is to stay hydrated. Here are some other tips to ensure your safety during extreme summer heat:

  1. HydrateDrinking 8 or more glasses of water of a day is the best way to stay hydrated. However, many feel that water can be boring and tasteless. Beverages with electrolytes, like Gatorade, may be a tastier alternative. But, you should be aware that along with those electrolytes come a lot of sugar. That’s what makes them so tasty.  Even adding lemon to water will help add taste and a few electrolytes without adding sugar. No matter how you drink your water, make sure that you are getting at least 8 glasses a day with the necessary electrolytes.
  2. Avoid Sodas and Energy DrinksCarbonated sodas and sugary drinks like Red Bull don’t help with hydration. Ice tea is not as bad, but isn’t the best for you either — anything with caffeine is a diuretic. This causes you to lose water, rather than helping you hydrate your body, and should be avoided. Watch out for lemonade and canned citrus beverages as well.  It’s best to dilute them with water to balance out their sugar and acidity.
  3. Avoid Cigarettes – They usually make respiration even harder in high heat.
  4. Choose Lunch CarefullyJunk food is high in fat and preservatives, which will put a high caloric load on your digestive system. Processing this heavy food can be difficult for your body and cause stress to the body in high heat. Try eating a bigger breakfast so that you’re not as hungry at lunch  Light lunches with lots of fruits and veggies are best.  Also, those fruits and vegetables contain natural water.  These again will help in hydrating you and building up your overall strength.
  5. Try to Avoid the Afternoon SlumpOur body’s internal clock that governs our sleep-wake cycle prepares most people to work the day shift. But it is natural to feel tired after a heavy lunch. Try eating a lighter lunch to avoid the slump. Eating a heavy lunch will make you drowsy, which will diminish your alertness that can contribute to accidents.
  6. Reschedule Your Shift – In cases of extreme heat, if possible, consider rescheduling work for the cooler parts of the day. When possible, try scheduling your shift for when it is cooler, usually early mornings or nights. If you know it will be a day of extreme heat, try to avoid working during the hottest part of the afternoon. Surprisingly, the hottest parts of the day may not be at noon or 1:00 , but even later and closer to 3:00 in the afternoon. Supervisors should watch closely for indicators of fatigue and heat stress and schedule frequent breaks.  Employers should keep an eye on the weather and try to reschedule work for the cooler parts of the days during extreme heat if at all possible to avoid the risks of heat stroke and heat stress.
  7. Bring on the ShadeTry to work in shaded areas whenever possible. Use canopies, umbrellas or other shielding devices to avoid direct exposure to the sun. Employers should provide heavy duty sunblock for all day and skilled laborers. Employers should supply wide-brim hard hats. Long sleeves, neck protectants, vented hard hats, cooling vests and bandanas are also essential wardrobe items. Last, employers should consult with their safety hardware and uniform vendors to ensure workers stay cool. When you are provided with protective wear for heat stress, it is important that you wear it at all times, not just when you’re out in direct sun.  You are under heat exposure even when you’re out of direct sunlight.
  8. Employers should make sure water coolers are always available and kept full at every jobsite. They should also monitor and follow all mandatory break rules so that all crew members get multiple breaks out of the direct sun within a designated time period.

As we mentioned before, although it is spring now, summer will be here before long. As you know, it can get very hot in Texas! Working in extreme heat can be dangerous, so it is important to stay cool and ensure protection against the sun. The team at Guajardo & Marks encourages workers to keep an eye on one another, be on the alert for signs of heat exhaustion, and take early steps to intervene if necessary.

We are here to help.

Heat-related deaths happen, but following these tips can help avoid them. As always with safety, err on the side of caution and make smart choices.  The team at Guajardo & Marks is always here for you to answer your questions related to any on-the-job-accident, catastrophic injury or wrongful death case. Please call us any time you or a loved one has experienced any of these tragic events.