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Staying Safe in the Summer Heat

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The late summer heat can be brutally uncomfortable, and it can also be dangerous. If you work or spend much time outside - or if your company has employees who do - it's important to know what to do to stay hydrated and prevent heat-related illnesses or worse. It's just as important to stay safe when engaged in recreational activities as it is when working, so there really isn't anyone who doesn't need to know what steps to take to stay safe in the heat of the summer.

Heat-Related Safety

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), three key words to remember for hot weather safety are: (1) water, (2) rest and (3) shade. These three words are important - and they are a great place to stat. However, there are actually a number of additional important guidelines people should take to prevent heat-related illnesses when working outdoors in hot conditions.

OSHA recommends:

  • Instead of waiting until you are thirsty to hydrate, drink water every 15 minutes
  • Take periodic rest breaks in shady areas to allow your body to cool down
  • Cover your head with a hat
  • Avoid dark apparel, opting instead for light-color clothing items
  • Be mindful of fellow workers, watching for and taking prompt action if anyone shows signs of illness
  • Allow yourself time to acclimate yourself to working in hot conditions when you are new to them so that your body can build up a tolerance

Sun Exposure

It's also important to be aware of the cancer risk associated with sun exposure, regardless of the temperature outside or how sunny or cloudy conditions are. The American Cancer Society offers a number of skin cancer prevention tips for those who work in the outdoors, or who spend time in outdoor conditions. Examples include:
  • Cover yourself with broad spectrum protection sunscreen that has a sun protection factor of 30 or higher, even when it is overcast or cloudy
  • Wear wrap-on sunglasses with full UVA and UVB protection
  • Wear clothing made of fabrics that are tightly woven enough so that it is impossible to see through them even when shining a light directly on them

Learn More

These are just a few of the many important heat-related safety recommendations you should keep in mind for yourself and your company. For more details, see OSHA's Fact Sheet for Working Outdoors in Warm Climates.

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