Staying cool while working in the heat can help you maintain your energy, stay focused and safe on the job and even save your life. Here’s how you can stay cool in the hottest weather while on the job.
1. Drink Lots of Water
Staying hydrated is key. Rather than waiting until you’re thirsty to take a drink, it’s important to drink small amounts of water every 20 minutes or so. This way, you can ensure you stay hydrated throughout the day and water is always available to your organs.
It’s also important to start drinking water as soon as you wake up, before beginning work in the heat and long before it gets hot. Bringing a water bottle or two with you can help ensure you always have water on hand.
2. Pick Drinks You Enjoy
If you’re not a fan of plain water, you can drink other beverages to help you stay hydrated. Though it is not recommended to load up on caffeinated beverages, it is okay to have some caffeine in your drinks because you still get the benefit of the liquid even if it is a diuretic.
3. Dress Appropriately
When it’s hot outside and you’ll be working in the sun, it’s always a good idea to wear light-colored, lightweight and loose-fitting clothing. The light color stops the cloth from absorbing heat, and the loose-fitting clothes allow for airflow next to the skin, which can help you stay cool.
To help you keep the sun directly off your face, it’s a good idea to wear a hat as well. A brim wide enough to cover the tops of your ears and the back of your neck is recommended.
Staying covered with sunscreen (even under lightweight clothing) is also recommended. Though it won’t help you to stay cool, it can stop you from getting a severe sunburn that can lead to other painful, uncomfortable issues.
4. Find the Shade When Possible
If you can, try to do as much work as possible in the shade, whether it’s shade that is naturally provided by buildings and trees or shade that you create with an awning or tent. If you can’t do too much work in the shade, be sure to take regular breaks and give yourself some time out of the direct sun.
5. Keep a Spray Bottle of Water Nearby
Misting tents are a regular feature at outdoor festivals and concerts for a reason. They provide much-needed shade and the benefit of cool water on the skin. A solid alternative to diving into a cool lake or pool, misting can help lower your body’s temperature and make you feel more comfortable while working outside.
Though it’s unlikely you’ll have a misting tent on the jobsite, you can bring a spray bottle full of water with you and keep it in a cooler so the water is nice and cold. Use it throughout the day to help you fend off the heat.
6. Use a Frozen Towel
Dampen a hand towel until it is thoroughly soaked but not dripping, and place it in the freezer overnight. During the day, place it around your neck while you’re working. As the ice melts, it will cool you off and lower your body temperature. You can make a few of these to get you through the day and store them in an ice cooler until you’re ready to use them.
Similarly, you can also use blocks of ice to help cool yourself down by allowing them to melt under your arms and on the backs of your knees, your wrists and the back of your neck. If this sounds too messy, try a cooling vest, which is a vest manufactured with pockets designed to hold chemical cooling packs. These vests let you wear the “ice ” on your body while you work to help keep you cool.
7. Stay Fueled
It’s important to eat a good breakfast before heading to the work site and drink lots of water before getting started. Throughout the day, it’s equally important to stay fueled with healthy food while staying hydrated.
To help you keep your energy up while you’re doing this hard work, it’s recommended to eat light meals that are easy for your body to process rather than protein-dense or carb-heavy meals. Salads, vegetables and fruit are great options during the workday.
8. Plug in a Fan
Especially if there is little shade nearby, it’s a good idea to use a fan outside. Extension cords and a generator can help you to keep it going throughout the workday if possible, or you can plug it in every so often to give yourself a break if you cannot have it running nonstop at work.
9. Keep Your Hair Short
If you have long or thick hair, it’s a good idea to get a haircut that lightens the weight on top of your head to stay cooler. Shorter hair and thick hair that has been layered or thinned will help your body to self-regulate its temperature in the hot sun.
10. Cut Out Alcohol During the Week
Though you should avoid drinking alcohol while in the hot sun and on the job, it’s also a good idea to avoid alcohol after work. Drinking after a long shift out in the sun will take a toll on your body and make it harder to stay cool the next day when you head back to the job site.
If your company requires uniforms, gloves, hats, towels or other equipment to keep employees protected on the job, contact Alsco today to find out how we can help. Our lightweight uniforms may be a good option for employees on hot days.