In summer, the heat is on for farmers in more ways than one. Your to-do list is seemingly endless, and the temps and humidity can take their toll. While you work, your internal temperature rises, and the hot weather offers no reprieve, creating rough conditions. We have these tips to ward of heat-related illness and to keep you more comfortable while you do the important work of feeding the country.
Dress the part
Protective clothing is one of the best ways to stay cool while working in the heat. Shield yourself from the sun by covering up with a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses. Although you might be tempted to dress minimally to keep cool, wearing a long-sleeved shirt and pants tucked into boots will help prevent ticks, other bugs and poisonous vegetation from wreaking havoc. Wear light-colored, loose-fitting, and breathable clothing like cotton or linen, OSHA recommends. A special body-cooling vest might also be a great investment if you live in a steamy climate.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends drinking 1 cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes during moderate activity. If you’re working outside in the heat, you’ll want to stay ahead of those numbers to avoid dehydration. Your urine is a good indicator as to whether you need to be drinking more water. Ideally you want your urine to look clear. You might swear by your morning cup of joe to get you going, but avoid drinking caffeine all day or adding sugary or alcoholic beverages to the mix. All of these items can dehydrate you.
Keep your cool
Find a shady spot where you can take frequent breaks during hot weather. That could be the air-conditioned cab of your truck or even an outbuilding. Eat regular meals and include a lightly salted snack or two throughout the day for energy and balancing electrolytes. If possible, schedule demanding tasks for early morning or evening when it’s cooler.
Mind your meds
Your body might have difficulty cooling down or it may heat up more quickly if you take certain medications or have certain medical conditions. Talk to your physician before working in the heat this summer to find out if you’re at an increased risk for heat-related illness and need to take additional precautions.
Know the symptoms
Heat-related illness can sneak up quickly. Keep an eye out for the warning signs and act fast in the event of heat stroke, heat exhaustion and heat cramps.
Heat stroke happens when the body can no longer control its temperature and is unable to cool down. Heat stroke is a medical emergency, and you should call 911 immediately.
Heat exhaustion is the body’s response to dehydration. If you are experiencing signs of heat exhaustion, ask a fellow worker or family member for assistance; you shouldn’t be left alone, and you may need medical treatment.
Heat cramps occur when your body sweats out too much salt and can also be a sign of heat exhaustion. Drink a sports drink or try water with a salty snack. Seek medical attention if you’re on a low-sodium diet, have heart issues or if your cramps don’t go away after an hour.