Do you feel like a melting wax candle when you step outside your door? Here are some tips for coping with heat and humidity, at home or at work:
- Hydrate! Sweat helps you cool off, when it evaporates from your skin. But you can’t sweat if you are de-hydrated. Drink water, before you get thirsty. (Thirst is a delayed response; by the time you are thirsty, you are already de-hydrated.)
- Wear light-coloured, loose-fitting, breathable fabrics. New athletic “wicking” fabrics are great for keeping you cool. (Did you know that you shouldn’t use fabric softener on these textiles? Fabric softener “clogs” the wicking properties.)
- Safety first – if you need hats, pants, and long sleeves, then try to find the lightest textiles that are safe. If you have a choice, choose shorts and sleeveless shirts. Pull long hair up off your neck. Remember, your goal is to get air to pick up the moisture on your skin.
- Maintain your tolerance for heat (known as “acclimatization”) by making sure that you’re exposed to heat every day. Coming back to a hot workplace after two weeks of vacation in air conditioning will be not only uncomfortable, but potentially dangerous, too.
- If you have heavy work to do outdoors, try to plan the hardest work for the coolest part of the day. (Use the push mower first and the rider later, for example.)
- Misters work the same way as sweat – spraying a fine mist of water (or running through a sprinkler) has a nice cooling effect, as air picks up the moisture and cools your skin.
- A breeze, or fans can also help to encourage evaporation.
- If you work indoors in a hot environment (or the A/C is on the fritz), conserve energy by opening windows at night when it’s cooler, and closing windows and blinds in the morning to keep the cool air in and the hot air out.
Pay attention to the signs of heat-related illness and seek attention. Watch out for these signs, in yourself and those around you, and get attention right away. Early signs of heat exhaustion include:
- lightheadedness or fainting
- mood changes, including irritability or confusion
- nausea or vomiting.
Symptoms of heat stroke (more serious) include:
- dry, hot skin with no sweating
- mental confusion
- losing consciousness
- seizures and convulsions
At Taylor’d Ergo, we help our clients set up heat stress prevention programs (usually in the spring), and we provide training and awareness materials to help roll out the program. Let us know if you’d like some help.
(Carrie took the photo above from atop the camel, on a trip to Egypt in 2013. Temperatures were in the high 30s and low 40s, but it was very dry. Ontario summers “feel” just as hot!)