Our employees here at L&M can spend a great deal of time out in the sun, and although the summer months may be coming to an end, we all know that Colorado tends to run a season behind. In this week’s blog post we’ll be taking a look at all the ways that those who work out in the field can take to stay cool.
Any doctor will tell you that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so let’s begin by discussing the simple yet diverse ways that you can prevent heat exhaustion. It may seem obvious, but it simply cannot be overstated: drink water. Sweating is one of our body’s foremost natural defenses against heat exhaustion and it can’t do it properly without lots of water. Similarly, wearing loose fitting and lightweight clothes can also help with temperature regulation, so no sweaters on the jobsite please! It’s perhaps less well known that sunburns can negatively impact your body’s ability to cool itself (Mayo Clinic, 2022). Wide brimmed hardhats, sunglasses, and sunscreen of at least SPF-15 can all help protect you from sunburns. Our final means of prevention doesn’t apply to everyone but can be critical. Some types of medication (notably Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs or NSAIDS) can impact your thirst sensation, leading to decreased fluid intake (Walter et al, 2011). These same medications often have diuretic properties causing an increase in urine output. NSAIDS are common in pain-relief medications, which can be quite popular among those who work physically demanding jobs. If you take these types of medication, be sure to pay close attention to your water intake.
Prevention is of course all well and good, but what symptoms can alert workers of impending heat exhaustion?
· Cool, moist skin with goose bumps when in the heat
· Heavy sweating
· Weak, rapid pulse
· Low blood pressure upon standing
· Muscle cramps
All these symptoms are good indicators that you may be suffering from heat exhaustion. Luckily, treatment is rather straightforward. Seek out a cooler area, get some rest, and drink lots of water. Easy, right? Sports drinks such as Gatorade can also be a solid choice since your body will have lost a great deal of electrolytes while sweating. Until next week, stay safe and hydrated!