At Kensington Glass Arts, Inc., we are aware that many of our employees must work outdoors during hot conditions. In addition, many of us enjoy having fun in the sun during the summer. However, it’s important to consider the risks of heat-related illness. Preventing heat-related illness is a top priority to Kensington Glass Arts. Therefore, Kensington Glass Arts wanted to share tips to stay safe during the summer heat. Check out our guide to protect yourself during these hot summer months during both work and play!
Who should care about overheating?
Everyone should! However, certain individuals are at higher risk of overheating. These include:
- People who work outdoors in hot climates
- Children under age 4
- Individuals above age 65
- People with certain health conditions, like diabetes, lung disease, and kidney disease
- Individuals who take certain medications such as antihistamines and antidepressants
Even if you do not fall into one of these categories, it is still important for you to protect yourself against heat illness. Overall, the biggest risks for heat illness are dehydration and a high heat index.
Working in the construction industry means that our employees are often working outdoors, even during summers. While Kensington Glass Arts is located in Maryland, it’s still important for us to care for our employees during excessive heat. In 2019 Maryland was placed under a Code Red Heat Alert with temperatures reaching up to 100 degrees. Situations like these are likely to occur this summer as well. Therefore, it is extremely important for KGa to inform our fellow skilled trade workers on how to protect themselves against heat-related illnesses.
Heat illnesses include various conditions ranging from heat cramps, all the way to heatstroke. Often, ignoring early signs of heat illnesses can ultimately lead to more serious heat illnesses. Heatstroke can even cause death. In this section, we go over the symptoms of heat-related illnesses.
Heat cramps refer to painful, brief muscle cramps. When you experience heat cramps, your muscles may jerk involuntarily. Often, this occurs within the first few days of an activity you’re not used to. This may occur at the same time as heat exhaustion. If you are experiencing only heat cramps, taking a break and rehydrating should help resolve any symptoms. However, it’s important to remain aware of the symptoms of more serious heat illnesses. If you believe you are at risk of heat exhaustion, you may need to seek medical attention.
Heat exhaustion can occur in two possible situations. The first condition is water depletion or dehydration. Signs of heat exhaustion due to water depletion include excessive thirst, weakness, headache, and loss of consciousnesses. Heat exhaustion can also occur from salt depletion. Signs of heat exhaustion related to salt depletion include nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps, and dizziness. Some symptoms of heat exhaustion, in general, include confusion, dark-colored urine, fatigue, fainting, pale skin, profuse sweating, amongst other symptoms.
If not taken seriously, heat exhaustion can progress to heatstroke. If you or your workers are experiencing heat exhaustion, immediately get out of the heat and rest either indoors or in a cool and shady place. In addition, make sure you are drinking plenty of fluids. Sports drinks, like Gatorade, can replenish lost salt. After 15 minutes, if you are still experiencing symptoms, seek emergency medical help.
The most serious heat illness is heatstroke, also known as sunstroke. Heatstroke can cause damage to the brain and other internal organs. Heatstroke can also lead to death. If you believe someone is experiencing heat stroke, immediately call emergency services and deliver first aid care until paramedics arrive. Heatstroke occurs when the core body temperature is greater than 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Symptoms of heatstroke include nausea, seizures, confusion, disorientation, loss of consciousness, coma, and amongst other signs.
While sunburn is not a heat-illness, sunburns tend to increase during the summer months. To protect yourself against sunburn during the summer, make sure you are wearing proper sunscreen protection. Your sunscreen bottle should have directions on application and re-application. If you discover you are developing a sunburn, make sure to get out of the sun. If this is not possible, try to wear protective clothing to cover the burnt area. Make sure the area remains moisturized and you are hydrated. Taking anti-inflammatory medicine can help with discomfort caused by sunburns.
How to prevent overheating
The first, and often easiest, way to prevent heat illness is by drinking sufficient water. On average, a person needs 27 – 47 ounces of water per hour when doing intensive labor. In addition, taking frequent breaks in the shade or indoors with air conditioning allows your body to cool down during the summer heat.
If you or your workers are just getting started working outdoors, it’s important to acclimate to the hot environment. The first day of heat acclimation, the worker should only experience 20% exposure. The next day, increase exposure by no more than 20%. This process usually takes about two weeks. The benefits of this process include increased sweating efficiency, stabilization of circulation, and gaining the ability to perform work at a lower core body temperature.
If you’re a construction worker looking for specific tips on preventing heat-related illness, check out this video by NAHBTV on YouTube.
For Kensington Glass Arts employees, we are about protecting our employees against heat illnesses. While we work primarily on interior glass installations, many of our field workers must work outdoors for parts of the day. That’s why we have educated our employees through Toolbox Talks and this blog. Our employees know that they are welcome to take breaks, get hydrated, and stay safe while working on the job.
About Kensington Glass Arts
Kensington Glass Arts is a high-end commercial glass fabricator and installer. In addition, KGa offers pre-construction and building envelope services. If you’re looking to work in the glass industry, check out our article for how to get started or apply to work with us now.
Center for Disease Control. Heat Stress Acclimation.
Skin Cancer Foundation (2020). Sunburn & Your Skin.
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