How to Beat the Heat in Summer Construction
Working summer construction takes a physical toll on the body that can easily lead to heat stress. If your body is dealing with heat stress, more severe conditions, including heat exhaustion and heat stroke, can occur.
Heat stress symptoms don't always make themselves evident. It's easy to get involved in your work to the point where you're skipping necessary breaks for food or hydration to help protect against heat-induced sickness.
It's essential to understand how your body reacts to working in summer weather so you can take proper precautions.
How Does the Body React to Working in Heat?
When a person experiences heat stress, their internal body temperature rises to an unusually high level. One of the most well-known signs of the body's core temperature rising includes the production of sweat. While sweat is a natural response to heat, it's a sign that the body is losing water. Elevated heat levels exist when the body is attracting more heat than it can lose.
After a person's internal temperature gets too high, the body's control mechanism will start showing signs of struggle.
Signs that your body's control mechanism is failing include:
- A lack of concentration
- Muscle cramps
- Extreme thirst
Even though all heat-related illnesses are serious, certain conditions are more deadly than others. It's important to remember that specific heat stress symptoms can indicate a more significant issue, such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
Heat exhaustion tends to be marked by:
Heatstroke symptoms include:
- Dry, hot skin
While heatstroke victims usually don't produce high levels of sweat, a person sweating can still be experiencing a heat stroke if the other symptoms above are observed. You may not be able to control the weather that exists on your construction job site; you can decide how to respond to your conditions.
Extreme heat is defined as temperatures existing 10 degrees or more above the area's average high temperatures.
Here's a rundown of ways you can beat the heat when working summer construction:
Check the Heat Index
A heat index indicates how comfortable or uncomfortable a person is likely to feel based on the humidity and air temperature combination. You must evaluate humidity levels as high humidity hinders the body's ability to evaporate sweat—one of the body's fundamental cooling mechanisms. Low humidity levels are equally important to note as they increase sweat evaporation, which is a catalyst for dehydration.
Acclimate to Your Environment
A helpful tip for acclimating to the physically demanding work of construction during the summer heat is to gradually increase your workload during the first week of high temperatures.
The way you dress will have a significant impact on how easily you'll acclimate to summer construction work.
While you may not have complete control over the way you dress on a worksite with clothes such as long pants being the norm, you can:
- Wear light-colored and loose-fitting clothing
- Dress in moisture-wicking and breathable materials
- Avoid heavy clothing
- Wear sun hats
- Apply sunscreen before working
The best types of sunscreens to wear when working outdoors are waterproof or sweat-proof so that you can count on continual protection throughout the day. Look for sun hats that contain wide brims for extra protection against beaming sun rays.
Eat the Right Type of Foods
While you consider strategies to overcome working construction in the summer heat, don't overlook the importance of types of food you eat before and during your workday.
Try not to eat too much before you work as heat can trigger nausea from overeating. Vomiting as a result of nausea will cause your body to become dehydrated faster. Instead, try opting for smaller, more frequent meals and snacks.
A few examples of good food to eat when working in hot weather are:
Work on Staying Cool
An easy way to stay cool and maintain healthy body temperatures is to spend time in spaces with air conditioning. Try and utilize cold towels during breaks at crucial pulse points of the body, including your neck, wrist, and elbows.
If your construction job site doesn't feature access to areas with area conditioning, portable fans are a reliable solution.
Consider a Cooling Vest
Cooling vests aren't the cheapest form of apparel, but they'll help you go the distance during days of construction work in the summer heat.
By inserting cold packs in pockets throughout the vest, you'll be able to experience cooling effects without taking a break to apply cold towels. Replenishing the abilities of this accessory is as easy as dropping the vest inside of a freezer.
Start Early and Make Friends with Shade
We've all had moments when we've been outside on a summer day at 3:00 pm and felt the sun beating down harder than usual. Warm temperatures on a summer day peak from 3:00 pm-6:00 pm. The earlier you can start your work shift, the easier it'll be to beat the heat.
When you start to experience physical signs of discomfort from prolonged sun exposure, it's always smart to hop within some shade. To accelerate your recovery, use rest time in the shade to catch up on hydration.
Maintain Proper Hydration
Maintaining proper hydration is a fundamental way to overcome heat when working summer construction.
Below is a list of liquids to help you avoid when working to stay hydrated:
The electrolyte replenishing capabilities that sports drinks contain tend to be underscored by their high sugar content. Helping yourself to a sports drink is better for hydration than having a cup of coffee, but it's best to be mindful of how much sugar you're consuming.
Water remains one of the most tried and true methods for maintaining hydration. It's helpful to drink at least a couple of cups of water before you start working. As your construction workday unfolds, keep up your liquid intake by consuming water every 20 minutes.
One mistake that's easy to make is waiting to consume proper liquids until you're thirsty. Dehydration can begin to occur without signs of thirst. Once you're feeling thirsty, you're already partially dehydrated.
While water will continue to exist as one of the most reliable ways to hydrate yourself, is there a better option for construction workers?
How Hydrant Can Help You Beat the Heat in Summer Construction
Hydrant is one of the newest and fastest ways to rehydrate. Designed with a science-backed approach, Hydrant exists as a simple powder mix that contains the right balance of electrolytes and sugar.
Hydrant contains seven grams or less of cane sugar, so the small intestine's sodium-glucose transport mechanism is activated, which motions electrolytes and water into the bloodstream faster.
Low osmolality levels within the Hydrant mix create fewer particles per unit volume in the liquid. Fewer particles per volume mean that Hydrant can create further rapid absorption by traveling down the body's osmotic gradient faster.
If you're looking for a flavor that water doesn't offer, Hydrant offers nine different flavor varieties made from real fruit juice powder.
When looking for an extra boost, Hydrant offers a caffeinated mix containing 100mg of caffeine from green tea and 200mg of L-Theanine.
Stay hydrated and stay cool with the help of Hydrant.