When you’re a fridgie, working in hot conditions in summer is often part of the territory. But while being uncomfortable in the heat is obviously a major pain, if you don’t look after yourself, it can be seriously dangerous to your health too.
Being exposed to the hot Aussie sun at the height of summer can see you suffer sunburn and dehydration - or worse, heatstroke or skin cancer which can be fatal. But the good news is, with a few small tweaks to your work day, you can reduce the risk of heat-related illness and get through the summer unscathed.
So, read on to learn some simple but effective tips to help you stay cool on the work site when you’re stuck in the heat.
Keep Yourself Hydrated
It’s surprisingly easy to become dehydrated when working in hot conditions, so drinking plenty of water is a must. Make sure you have a good supply with you or available close at hand. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty, instead get into the habit of topping yourself up with water every 15-20 minutes. You’re best to avoid sugary drinks and coffee, as they can dehydrate you more, but if you can’t go without your daily caffeine fix drink extra water to account for it.
Protect Your Skin
However tempted you may be to don a singlet and shorts, if you’re working outdoors, the smart choice is to cover up. Go for a loose-fitting long sleeve shirt, long pants and a hat, preferably in lighter colours. Be sure to slop on some sunscreen to protect any skin that is showing from harmful UV rays, reapplying every 2-4 hours as it wears off.
Plan Your Day and Take Breaks
When you know there’s a scorcher ahead, plan your tasks so that you can avoid being out in the sun or in confined spaces during the hottest parts of the day. Start early if possible, but if you can’t avoid the heat, make sure you take regular breaks to cool down. If you’re managing a team, rotate your crew so everyone gets some relief, and be sure to enforce regular drink breaks.
Some Bonus Tips
No matter how much water you drink or how often you seek shade, some days on the job are just HOT. So, here are a few extra tips for cooling down that might bring some relief:
- Keep an esky on site filled with bottles of cold water on ice to get you through the day
- Add a couple of spray bottles filled with water in there too for a quick refresh on the go
- Wet a face washer and wipe it over the back of your neck, wrists and knees regularly
- Having a cold brew (or two) of your choice waiting for you at home always helps too!
Work Smart and Know the Warning Signs
If you work in the heat, don’t try and be a hero and soldier on. Heat-related illnesses can be serious, but they are also preventable. Make sure you and your team know the symptoms for various conditions and the appropriate treatment to give. Be watchful of workmates and mindful of how you feel and act early if someone is suffering. Heatstroke is a medical emergency and is fatal in 80% of cases, so don’t ever let it get to that point. Use the tips above to stay cool on site – and enjoy that cold drink in air-conditioned comfort when you get home - you’ve earned it!
Over to You
Have a tip you’d like to share to help your fellow fridgies survive the summer? We’d love to hear it – simply post below.