Staying safe working in the summer heat

Summer is officially here and whether youre working a farm, jobsite, garden, or lawn, remember to safety first.

The first step to staying safe in the heat is awareness. Check forecast temperatures, wind, and cloud cover ahead of the workday so you can dress appropriately and carry items needed to stay cool.

People are sometimes confused by the relationship between temperature and humidity but it need not be so. The Heat Index is a measure of how hot, humid weather feels to the human body. Sometimes referred to as relative temperature, feels like or real feel, the heat index is the interaction of air temperatures above 80 degrees F and relative humidity above 40%.

Heat index values are for the shade and not direct sunlight, where they can be more severe.

If you are working outside on heat index days, remember to do the following:

  • Stay hydrated. Drink at least a quart of water per hour and avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages which may contribute to dehydration.
  • Dress properly. Wear light colored loose-fitting clothing made from a material that allows sweat to evaporate from your skin.
  • Wear a hat. Keeping direct sunlight off the head goes a long way to keeping cool.
  • Try a cooling cloth. Theyre awesome!
  • Take frequent breaks. Dont wait until you start feeling bad before you sit in the shade or go inside to cool off.


The effects of working during heat index days vary in severity from fatigue and heat cramps to heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and death.

The warning signs of heat exhaustion are pale skin, fatigue, weakness, dizziness and/or nausea, profuse sweating, rapid pulse, fast and shallow breathing, and muscle weakness and cramps. If you or someone near you have any of these symptoms, get out of the heat and rest in a cool, shady place. Drink plenty of water or other fluids containing electrolytes, but do not drink alcohol as it will make the illness worse. If after 30 minutes you or the person experiencing these symptoms does not feel better, contact a doctor or 911. If not treated, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke, which can cause death.

The warning signs of heat stroke include skin that feels hot and dry, but not sweaty, confusion or loss of consciousness, throbbing headache, frequent vomiting, and shortness of breath or trouble breathing. If you or someone near you has any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately. Once emergency help is on the way, move the person to a cooler location, remove heavy clothing and cool the body by wetting it thoroughly and fanning it. Get the person to drink cool fluids if they can. Once at the hospital, the patient probably will be given fluids intravenously.

Its getting hot out there, and were all busy trying to get out work and projects done. Keep safe by staying cool, hydrating, and taking frequent breaks.

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