Like a term paper or cleaning out the garage – we managed to put summer off about as long as we possibly could here in Texas. Finally, this week, the dreaded “triple digits” are upon us.
At Texas811, our business is pretty much universally connected with the outdoors. Honestly, there’s not much call for a tracked backhoe in a living room! That means outdoor workers need to pay attention to the coming high temperatures. Here are some tips and things to watch out for when working outside in Texas in July, from no less an authority than the world-renowned Mayo Clinic.
- Wear loosefitting, lightweight clothing. Wearing excess clothing or clothing that fits tightly won’t allow your body to cool properly. However – REMEMBER YOUR HARD HAT!!!!!
- Protect against sunburn. Sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool itself, so protect yourself outdoors with a wide-brimmed hat/hardhat and sunglasses and use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 15. Apply sunscreen generously, and reapply every two hours — or more often if you’re sweating.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Staying hydrated will help your body sweat and maintain a normal body temperature.
- Take extra precautions with certain medications. Be on the lookout for heat-related problems if you take medications that can affect your body’s ability to stay hydrated and dissipate heat.
- Take it easy during the hottest parts of the day. If you can’t avoid strenuous activity in hot weather, drink fluids and rest frequently in a cool spot. Try to schedule exercise or physical labor for cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or evening.
- Get acclimated. Limit time spent working or exercising in heat until you’re conditioned to it. People who are not used to hot weather are especially susceptible to heat-related illness. It can take several weeks for your body to adjust to hot weather.
- Be cautious if you’re at increased risk. If you take medications or have a condition that increases your risk of heat-related problems, avoid the heat and act quickly if you notice symptoms of overheating. If you participate in a strenuous sporting event or activity in hot weather, make sure there are medical services available in case of a heat emergency.
With that in mind, are you feeling overheated? Here are the warning signs of heat stroke, from the Pennsylvania Medical Society’s Family Health and Wellness website at www.myfamilywellness.org.
- Pale skin
- Fatigue, weakness
- Dizzy or nauseous
- Sweating profusely
- Rapid pulse
- Fast, shallow breathing
- Muscle weakness or cramps
If you experience any of these symptoms, get out of the heat quickly and rest in a cool, shady place. Drink plenty of water or other fluids containing sugar and salt. Do NOT drink alcohol or caffeine; that can make it worse. If you don’t feel better within 30 minutes, contact your doctor. If heat exhaustion isn’t treated, it can progress to heat stroke.
Seek treatment immediately if any of these warning signs are present:
- Skin that feels hot and dry, but not sweaty
- Confusion or loss of consciousness
- Throbbing headache
- Frequent vomiting
- Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
Heat stroke is much more serious than heat exhaustion — it can kill you. People with heat stroke may have seizures or go into a coma and most also have a fever.
If heat stroke is suspected, call 911 immediately. Quickly move the victim to a cooler location, remove heavy clothing, fan the body and wet it down with a cool sponge or cloth, and encourage the individual to drink cool fluids.
Having heat exhaustion or heat stroke makes you more sensitive to hot conditions for about a week afterwards. Be especially careful not to exercise too hard, and avoid hot weather. Ask your doctor to tell you when it is safe to return to your normal activities.
Everyone at Texas811 asks that you play it safe outdoors this summer. Cooler weather will be here before you know it – and we want you around to enjoy it!