If you live in Texas and you have been here the last few days you know they have been HOT!  Texas heat can be dangerous and in construction consulting and on daily inspections we work in the weather rain or shine hot or not so we have to be careful not to become injured by it.  This is a challenge since heat affects you slowly and you may not realize you are dehydrated or over heated until you are well into the process.  If you are going to be exposed to the heat having a plan is your best defense.

My strategy for dealing with working in the heat is:

  • Taking regular breaks to drink cold drinks.  This is really important and you should plan for it.  If I just spend the day on a project where I know I will not get back into AC frequently I use a backpack hydration system to keep hydrated so I don’t forget.  These work exceptionally well and can be filled with ice for even better effect.
  • Limiting my time in really hot places like attics.  I don’t spend more than about 10 min in really hot attics and I take frequent lengthy breaks to drink cold water and cool down.  If I don’t have a place to cool down, I don’t go into excessively hot space.
  • Getting lots of rest in my off time.  I have been limiting my off time exposure to heat during these really hot day.  This is much to the disappointment to my daughter since we run together.  Heavy exercise and working in the heat all day does not work well for me.  I normally spend my evenings trying to rehydrate for my next work day.
  • Slow your work pace if you must work outside.  This will help you work longer.  I have a job where I must think and reason under hot and often physical conditions.  This is difficult in the heat and I must slow to do a good job.

Heat exhaustion occurs when your body gets too hot. The part of the brain that controls thirst and hunger, also controls the body’s core temperature. Normally, the body cools itself by sweating. But if you are exposed to high temperatures for a long time (working outdoors in the summer, for example) and don’t replace the fluids you lose, the body systems that regulate temperature become overwhelmed.

Signs of Heat Exhaustion
·    Headache
·    Nausea
·    Weakness
·    Vertigo
·    Thirst

Heat Stroke occurs when the body’s system of temperature regulation fails and body temperature rises to critical levels.  Heat stroke is and should be treated as a medical emergency and you should get immediate medical attention. If body temperature is too high, it causes death.

Signs of Heat Stroke
·    Confusion
·    Convulsions
·    Irrational Behavior
·    Loss of Consciensness
·    Hot, Dry Skin
·    Lack of Sweating
·    Abnormally High Body Temperature

Keep in mind I have developed my strategy based upon my experience in work and as an athlete.  These tips work for me but you may have additional considerations and needs.  Things like illness, medications, extreme heat, or other considerations should be considered deciding how you will deal with the heat.

For more information visit the CDC webs site on signs and symptoms of heat related illness and preventing injury.


National Environment Public Health Tracking Network