If you work outside, you know the importance of keeping cool while on the job. Overheating at work is a common hazard in the Summer months, especially at jobs that are labor intensive or that are in direct sunlight - and can lead to disastrous consequences for your health. With temperatures reaching record highs almost everywhere this Summer, this year, more than ever, it’s important to know how to keep cool while working in the heat. So, for those of you who do work outside in the Summer, we’ve put together a list of 10 things you can do to keep cool, so that you avoid the dangers of overheating on the job.
Why Staying Cool on the Job is Important
It can’t be understated how important it is to maintain a proper body temperature while on the job. It’s much easier than most people think to overheat while working, which is why it’s so important to be aware of how hot you’re getting. If you’re not careful, there are potentially serious consequences to your health that could cause permanent damage.
Heat cramps are the mildest form of heat-related syndromes, but they are still no joke. They are painful, involuntary muscle spasms that are typically caused by exercise in hot temperatures. The typical affected areas are the calves, arms, back and abdominal wall, but can include any muscle group involved with the exercise. If you’re getting heat cramps it’s a sign that you are overheated and need to take a break from whatever activity you’re doing, hydrate, and rest until they subside.
Heat Exhaustion, like heat cramps, typically occurs when you are exposed to high temperatures while doing strenuous activities - and can be exacerbated by humidity. Symptoms include heavy sweating, fatigue, rapid pulse, low blood pressure, muscle cramps and more.
If you feel like you’re getting heat exhaustion, you should stop whatever you’re doing and move to a cooler place. Definitely drink some water or some kind of sports drink, because if you keep overheating, it could lead to heatstroke.
A heatstroke occurs when your body temperature rises to 104 F and it can be deadly. It requires emergency treatment, and can damage your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. The longer you go without treating it, the worse and more serious the complications can be, and in worst cases, can actually kill you.
So clearly, keeping cool while on the job is extremely important, if you don’t take it seriously, you can actually die. So let’s look at the top ways you can keep cool while in the heat of the Summer, so you can ensure you stay safe while still earning a paycheck.
10 Ways to Stay Cool on the Job
- Dress in Proper Clothing - This one is pretty obvious but can’t be understated. If you’re working outside in the Summer, it’s absolutely critical that you dress in lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing such that you don’t add to the heat already beating down on you. Loose-fitting clothing allows for airflow and circulation, so heat won’t get trapped and cool air will keep flowing in. Light-colored clothing reflects heat instead of absorbing it like dark colored clothing, so wearing white or bright colors is key. Also, wearing natural fiber-based clothing like cotton, silk and linen that are light and airy will allow for additional air flow.
- Stay Shaded - While this isn’t always possible for everyone at every outdoor job, if it’s at all possible, you should try to stay in the shade as much as you can. Temperatures are lower in the shade, and if you can avoid direct sunlight on your skin you can avoid sunburn. Depending on what the job is, bringing a small umbrella or canopy to shade you can make a big difference in temperature.
- Maintain Airflow - Maintaining constant airflow is very important for keeping your body temperature down on the jobsite. Whether it’s a shop fan, a hand held fan, or some other way of getting some wind, you’ve got to consider all options when working in the heat. Make sure you plan accordingly, especially if you’re working inside, to bring necessary items to keep the air moving and temperature down.
- Try a misting bottle - When all else fails, spraying yourself with a light mist of cold water is a surefire way to cool yourself down. When just sweating won’t cut it, spraying yourself with a cool mist of cold water can be very relieving but also bring your overall body temperature down in times of dire heat. This can literally be a life saver, so it’s pretty essential to have some kind of mister when on the job. We at RinseKit make our own insulated misting water bottle called the RinseKit Sport you should check out if you're looking to stay misted on the job.
- Prevent Sunburn - Getting sunburned can actually affect your body’s ability to stay cool, so wearing sunscreen is extremely important to keeping cool if you are working outside all day. SPF 15 or greater is typically recommended if you are going to be outside for more than a few hours, and you should apply it liberally to any patches of skin that are exposed. If you can, you should wear a hat or some kind of brimmed headwear to protect your face, on top of sunscreen.
- Avoid working in the hottest part of the day - If you can, avoid working in the middle of the day or in the early afternoon. If you can get most of your outdoor or strenuous labor done in the morning or late afternoon instead of the middle of the day, that’s probably a better call. In some places, like Arizona, where it gets up 120 F during the day, some companies will even have their employees work at night instead of during the day to avoid the brutal heat. Whatever you can do to avoid that brutal midday heat, you should.
- Get Acclimated - If you’re not used to the hot weather, it can be even easier for you to get overhead when being out in it. If you can, you should slowly let your body get used to the extreme heat, limiting your exposure at first and then gradually exposing yourself over time.
- Avoid Caffeine and alcohol - Caffeine can actually make you more susceptible to overheating by raising your heart rate and increasing fluid loss. Alcohol makes you more dehydrated the more you drink, so you may think you’re replacing fluids when really, you’re just making the situation worse. Definitely avoid both of these if you know you’re going to be working in super hot temps.
- Be conscious of the heat index - You shouldn’t pay attention to just the temperature. When assessing whether or not it’s safe to work, you should consider the heat index as well, which is a combination of the temperature and relative humidity. This gives you a better feel of how it actually feels and can thus give you a better idea of how dangerous it actually is to be working.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate - This one is pretty obvious, but is obviously the most important. If you’re working in the heat, you should be drinking water constantly. The key is, don’t wait until you’re thirsty. Once you’re thirsty, you’re already 10 to 15% dehydrated and you’ll have to really knock some water back to catch up. If you’re working in the heat, the CDC recommends that you drink 1 cup of water every 15-20 minutes. That’s basically about a quarter gallon of water every hour, which means that you should basically drink a gallon of water an hour.
So it’s pretty clear that, along with other precautions, you should bring cold water and a mister on the jobsite if you’re going to keep safe and cool. You could purchase these items separately, but what if you could combine them - an insulated water bottle, and a mister, in one?
Well RinseKit did just that with the RinseKit Sport, the newest invention to come out of our HQO (what we call our warehouse). We took an insulated water bottle (like a Nalgene) and added a unique cap that, using a hand pump pressurizer, can spray or mist the water in the bottle up to three feet. This unique design has a variety of applications, including hand washing on the go, misting on the jobsite, or cleaning your pup off after a hike.
So with the RinseKit Sport you get both a high capacity, insulated water bottle that keeps your water extra cool, and a spraying / misting device that boasts a wide variety of functions and applications. It’s the ultimate way to kill two birds with one stone while keeping cool on the job site, as you can both drink and mist from the same bottle, plus your misted water will be extra cool. It’s the ultimate way to stay both hydrated and your body temp at a proper level.
So if you’re working outside this Summer, and are worried about overheating, we hope that you’ll keep these tips in mind. Like we mentioned, it can be hazardous to your health to let yourself overheat, and you can permanently damage your body if you get hot enough. If you’re looking for a way to stay both hydrated and misted in this heat, we hope that you’ll check out the RinseKit Sport as an all in one solution.