Flagger Force team members work outside in all weather, including heat, which can pose risks to health and safety if not properly managed. In this blog post, we’ll explore practical tips for staying healthy while working outdoors during the summer months, with a particular focus on extreme heat conditions.

So, if you’ve got a critical outdoor job to do, even when it’s hot, read on.

The Health Challenges of Working Outdoors in Extreme Heat:

Working in extreme heat can have serious health consequences if proper precautions are not taken. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) highlight several health challenges associated with working outdoors in extreme heat:

  • Heat-related illnesses: Prolonged exposure to high temperatures can lead to heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. These conditions can result in symptoms ranging from dizziness, fatigue, and nausea to potentially life-threatening complications.
  • Dehydration: Working outdoors in hot conditions can lead to excessive fluid loss through sweat, increasing the risk of dehydration. Dehydration can cause fatigue, dizziness, muscle cramps, and reduced cognitive function.

Practical Tips for Staying Healthy in Extreme Heat:

Now that you know the risks, here are some tips that can help keep you safe and productive even in hot weather:

  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Water is the best choice for hydration, but electrolyte-rich drinks can also help replenish lost minerals. Avoid excessive consumption of sugary or caffeinated beverages (like soda) since they can contribute to dehydration.
  • Dress Appropriately: Wear lightweight, breathable, and loose-fitting clothing that allows air circulation. Choose light-colored clothing that reflects sunlight and helps to keep your body temperature cooler. Additionally, protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat and using sunscreen with a high SPF.
  • Take Frequent Breaks: Incorporate regular breaks into your work schedule to rest and seek shade. Use these breaks to cool down, rehydrate, and recharge. Avoid overexertion, and pace yourself to prevent overheating.
  • Time Management: Plan your work activities to do physically demanding tasks during cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or evening. And minimize exposure to direct sunlight during peak hours, usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
  • Seek Shade: When possible, shield yourself from direct sunlight to reduce your exposure to extreme heat and minimize the risk of heat-related illnesses. Note: too much shade can impact the reflectiveness of your personal protective requipment.
  • Stay Informed: Pay attention to weather forecasts and heat advisories issued by local authorities. Stay informed about the current heat index and adjust your work plans accordingly. Knowledge of weather conditions can help you make informed decisions to protect your health.
  • Buddy System: Whenever feasible, work with a colleague and practice the buddy system. Regularly check on each other for signs of heat-related illnesses and provide assistance if needed. Encourage open communication about how everyone is feeling and take action if anyone shows symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Flagger Force is committed to keeping communities moving year-round, and that means working when it’s hot. So, it’s critical that our field teams adapt to the challenges of working in the heat and the tips presented here are a good roadmap. Remember to stay hydrated, dress appropriately, take regular breaks, seek shade, and be mindful of the weather conditions. By prioritizing your health and following these guidelines, you can enjoy a safe and productive summer season while doing your critical work.