Jul 10 , 2017

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Working outdoors during the harsh Southern Arizona summer heat increases the risk of dehydration and heat stress. People affected include construction workers, HVAC workers, landscapers, police, firefighters, and many others. Also those who drive in vehicles for work are at risk, due to the repetitive entering and exiting of their vehicle.  If you work in the heat, follow these 10 tips to minimize your risk and stay safe during the hot summer days.

  1. Avoid dehydration. If you are thirsty you are already dehydrated. Instead drink small amounts frequently at regular intervals until you are feeling hydrated.
  1. Carry a water bottle. You are more inclined to drink water when it is readily available, so keep a water bottle handy.
  1. Wear a hydration backpack. If a water bottle is not feasible or refill facilities are not close, a hydration backpack is great for hands free hydration.
  1. Monitor your number one. Urine color is the easiest way to monitor your hydration levels, the darker the color the more water you need. Check out: http://www.urinecolors.com/themes/uctheme/assets/dehydration-chart.pdf
  1. Avoid ice cold drinks. Cold water causes the blood vessels in the stomach to constrict, reducing the rate of fluid absorption. Cool water is absorbed faster, which is important to keep you hydrated when working in the heat.
  1. Limit caffeine intake. Avoid consuming caffeine before and during work (this includes coffee, tea, cola, energy drinks). Caffeine has a diuretic effect which contributes to dehydration.
  1. Check your meals. Eat food that contains extra water like watermelon. And ensure your diet includes lots of leafy greens, fresh fruit and nuts to help replenish the electrolytes lost through sweat.
  1. Apply UV protection. Apply SPF 50+ sunscreen before you finish putting on your clothes and reapply to sun exposed areas at least once during the day.
  1. Dress appropriately. Choose lightweight, breathable clothing made from organic materials such as cotton or hemp.
  1. Wear a hat. Find a hat that will shade your nose and neck.

And for those that have hired outdoor workers, offer them water and an opportunity to refill their bottles.