If you are in the landscape business, a big part of your job involves dealing with the changing weather conditions. Did you know that extreme heat can put you and your employees in danger? When it is hot outside, your body temperature can rise to unsafe levels, especially when you are performing strenuous labor. Normally, your body cools itself through sweating. In hot and humid weather, though, sweating is not enough, and the result can be a heat illness.
Follow the suggestions below to stay cool when working in hot weather:
• Wear loose, light-colored clothing and some type of hat.
• Adapt to working in hot conditions gradually, especially when performing physical tasks.
• Take breaks in the shade if possible.
• Avoid overexerting yourself during peak temperature periods (midday).
• Drink liquids frequently, even if you don’t feel thirsty—at least eight ounces every 20 to 30 minutes. Choose water, fruit juice or sports drinks, and stay away from liquids containing caffeine, which can dehydrate you.
Heat illness takes three forms, each with its own distinct symptoms:
• Heat Cramps – Severe muscle spasms in the back, stomach, arms and legs, which are attributed to the loss of body salt and water during periods of heavy perspiration.
• Heat Exhaustion – Heavy sweating, cool or pale skin, nausea, headache, weakness, vomiting and fast pulse.
• Heat Stroke – High body temperature, sweating stops, red and often dry skin, rapid breathing and pulse, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, confusion or unconsciousness.
Be aware of weather conditions when you will be working outside so that you can be prepared with appropriate clothing and beverages. If you are working outside and start to feel any adverse symptoms, take a break.