Ready for the heat? Prevent heat stress in the summer months

Hard to believe, but we’re just weeks away from higher temperatures. Employees who work in service, parts or body shop departments that aren’t air conditioned or are poorly ventilated can really feel the heat – sometimes 100 degrees F or higher with more than 70 percent humidity. Temperatures that high can result in heat stress, injury or even death.

Here are some tips to help your employees beat the heat and spot symptoms of heat stress:

  • Drink plenty of fluids: Your body needs water, salt and minerals to function. Making sure that employees are drinking plenty of cool water, natural juices or drinks containing electrolytes will help them stay cool in a hot environment. Employees should avoid alcohol (obviously), pop, coffee or other caffeinated beverages, they remove fluids from the body and do more harm than good.
  • Eat light: Heavy meals add heat to the body and send blood away from the skin to the digestive system. They also increase metabolic heat production and increase water loss. Eating smaller, lighter meals will help employees better deal with the heat.
  • Check medications :  Caffeine and medicines for blood pressure and allergies increase the risk of heat stress. Employees dealing with hypertension or other conditions such as diabetes should be made aware that certain medications make them more susceptible to heat stress, and provided opportunity to regularly cool down and hydrate.
  • Work with care: Set up fans to keep the air moving; and suggest that employees use cool rags on the back of their necks and to wear loose, light clothing.

Most importantly, don’t ignore signs of heat stress. If untreated heat stress can become heat exhaustion, which can lead to heat stroke. Common signs of heat stress include muscle spasms or cramps, very heavy sweating, weakness; cold, pale or clammy skin, as well as nausea or dizziness.

Employees that experience these symptoms should immediately rest in a cool spot and sip water or sports drinks until they recover. If symptoms persist, medical attention should be sought for their recovery.