Avoiding Heat Stress
Avoiding heat stress could save your life. Like most of the Midwest, Indiana has experienced record heat this summer with no immediate end in sight. Understanding what excess heat can do to the human body and how to avoid stress is essential.
If you research avoiding heat stress, one of the most common recommendations is to stay inside as much as possible, which is good advice. However, what if you can’t? For example, what if you work outside? Here are a few suggestions for those of you out in the heat.
Avoiding Heat Stress
Hydrate before and after work. Keep a cooler of water and drink whenever you feel thirsty. So, how much should you drink in the heat? “When working in the heat, drink 1 cup (8 ounces) of water every 15–20 minutes. Do not drink more than 48 oz (1½ quarts) per hour! Drinking too much water or other fluids (sports drinks, energy drinks, etc.) can cause a medical emergency because the concentration of salt in the blood becomes too low.” CDC Heat Stress Hydration. Avoid sugary drinks as well as energy drinks. Limit alcohol and caffeine consumption because both will dehydrate your body.
Watch What You Eat
Your body needs protein, but too much can cause thermogenesis meaning your body generates additional heat during digestion. So avoid the triple cheeseburgers. Eggs, leafy greens, melons, berries, and watery vegetables like cucumbers are excellent foods for fueling your body while hydrating at the same time. As counterintuitive as it sounds, ice cream and other cold foods aren’t the answer. Cold foods during digestion can heat the body; besides, you don’t need all the sugar.
Protect Yourself From the Sun
When outdoors, use sunscreen (at least SP15). Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing and cover as much of your body as possible. A wide-brimmed hat can also protect you from direct sunlight. Sunglasses are good. However, sunglasses without a minimum rating of UV400 may not protect you from harmful ultraviolet rays. Whenever possible, seek shade. Avoiding direct sunlight can also help protect you from skin cancer.
Watch for Signs of Heat Distress
Hot, dry, or clammy skin may signify a heat disorder. Cramps in your stomach and legs or heavy sweating may signal the beginning of heat exhaustion. High body temperature, irregular heartbeat, or shallow breathing could be the early stages of heat stroke. For older adults like me, it’s a good idea to have medical information available, such as phone numbers of health care providers.
One Last Caution
Every year, we read about or watch newscasts about children, the elderly, or pets left in closed automobiles. According to pediatrics.about.com, temperatures can rise quickly to 120-140F or more in a short time. On average, in the USA, 38 children per year lose their life in a hot car.
It’s easy to underestimate the dangers of extreme heat, so pay attention to your body, the conditions around you, and be prepared.
For additional sun safety and heat information, check out almanac.com.
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About the Author
Randy Clark is a speaker, coach, and author. He publishes a weekly blog at Randy Clark Leadership.com. Randy is passionate about social media, leadership development, and flower gardening. He’s a beer geek, and on weekends (after COVID-19), he can be found fronting the Rock & Roll band Under the Radar. He’s the proud father of two educators; he has four amazing grandchildren and a wife who dedicates her time to helping others. Randy is the author of the Amazon bestseller The New Manager’s Workbook, a crash course in effective management.