Tips for Working Outdoors in Summer
Whether you are in construction, on traffic duty, a postman, etc., if you work outdoors during the summer months you know how hard it can be on your body. Therefore it is important to take care of yourself. You must protect yourself against the summer elements just as much as you do for the winter elements.
The first step in taking care of yourself is preparation. As a start, you should maintain an awareness of the weather forecast and then plan accordingly. For example, when packing your lunch on hot sunny days be sure to pack a hat, sunscreen, and extra water. Leave the caffeinated drinks at home, as caffeine can cause dehydration. Wear the right clothes; opt for clothes that you canít see through to help prevent sunburn. Also be sure you are getting plenty of sleep. Sleep is an important part in healing process, and too little sleep can result in a longer recovery time.
Itís also important to maintain an awareness of common summer injuries as well as the symptoms and what you can do to take care of yourself. There are three types of heat-related illnesses:
- Heat cramps are the mildest form of heat injury and consist of painful muscle cramps and spasms that occur during or after intense exercise/work and sweating in high heat.
- Heat exhaustion is more severe than heat cramps and results from a loss of water and salt in the body. It occurs in conditions of extreme heat and excessive sweating without adequate fluid and salt replacement. Heat exhaustion occurs when the body is unable to cool itself properly and, if left untreated, can progress to heat stroke.
- Heat stroke, the most severe form of heat illness, occurs when the body's heat-regulating system is overwhelmed by excessive heat. It is a life-threatening emergency and requires immediate medical attention.
Here are some tips for preventing heat-related injuries:
- Drink plenty of fluids during vigorous or outdoor activities (including sunbathing), especially on hot days. Drinks of choice include water and sports drinks; avoid alcohol and fluids with caffeine such as tea, coffee, and cola, as these can lead to dehydration.
- Dress in light-colored, lightweight, tightly-woven, loose-fitting clothing on hot days.
- Schedule vigorous activity for cooler times of the day. Take frequent rest periods in shady or cool areas.
- Use a sunscreen that is at least SPF (sun protection factor) 15.
- Increase time spent outdoors gradually to get your body used to the heat.
Pest can be an issue during the summer months as well. Two of the most common are Ticks and Mosquitos.
Lyme disease is an illness caused by bites from infected ticks. Most, but not all, victims will develop a bulls-eye rash. Other signs and symptoms may be non-specific and similar to flu symptoms such as fever, lymph node swelling, neck stiffness, generalized fatigue, headaches, migrating joint aches, or muscle aches. You are at increased risk if you work outdoors.
Here are a few tips to help protect you:
- Wear light-colored clothes to see ticks more easily.
- Wear long sleeves; tuck pant legs into socks or boots.
- Wear high boots or closed shoes that cover your feet completely.
- Wear a hat.
- Use tick repellants, but not on your face.
- Do a tick check before your shower after working outdoors. Wash and dry your work clothes at high temperature.
- Examine your body for ticks after work. Remove any attached ticks promptly.
- Do not use petroleum jelly, a hot match, or nail polish to remove the tick. Simply pull it out and then burn it in the sink.
West Nile illness from West Nile Virus is rare, but it does happen. Mild symptoms include fever, headache, and body aches, occasionally with a skin rash on the trunk of the body and swollen lymph glands. Symptoms of severe infection include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, and paralysis. Getting rid of standing water in containers such as discarded tires, buckets, and barrels helps reduce mosquito breeding areas .
In addition, you can protect yourself from mosquito bites in these ways:
- Apply insect repellant with DEET to exposed skin.
- Spray clothing with repellents containing DEET or permethrin.
- Wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks.
- Be extra vigilant at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.