The inevitability of higher temperatures in Arizona is a fact.
We’ve been flirting with 90 degrees off and on for the past couple weeks, which means the 100-plus degrees will be here before we know it. Now is the time to begin to prepare your body for what’s to come.
Heat acclimation is the process of increasing your body’s core temperature so sweating occurs earlier and in greater quantities to cool the body more efficiently. This is especially useful for people who work or exercise outside.
For outdoor nursery workers, landscapers, construction workers and roofers or any contractor who will be working outside, learning to how to acclimate to hot temperatures in order to reduce the risk of heat-related illnesses goes a long way.
Here are the benefits of preparing your body to the heat:
- You will feel more comfortable while working in hot weather.
- You will be able to improve your work performance in the heat.
- You will lower your body’s heat production, heart rate, core temperature and salt loss.
- You will improve internal organ protection, skin blood flow and sweating.
- Employers may want to develop a 10- to 14-day program of about two hours a day to help employees acclimate to the heat. Work activity intensity in the heat ought to increase slowly each day working up to the desired level.
During the first 5 days of this process, the body improves its cardiovascular functions in the heat. During the first 8 days, the body-core temperature is adjusted. Resting in the heat without any physical activity will not help to adjust the body to higher temperatures.
During the acclimation period, plan to increase your fluid intake with water or sports drinks in small amounts every 15 minutes. Also, more sodium will be retained by the body and less excreted in sweat and urine if more fluid is consumed. This will allow the body to maintain its proper sodium concentrations. But remember to consume enough sodium to replace what is lost by sweating. A low-sodium diet may impair the body’s ability to maintain its sodium levels.
Finally, outdoor workers may want to wear light-colored clothing, and keep the clothing to a minimum. Clothing insulates the body, disrupts heat transfer and evaporates sweat. So workers should to wear loose-fitting, breathable, cotton clothing.
For more information on heat-related illnesses, working in the heat or acclimating to the heat, visit our website, www.copperpoint.com, where you may order our safety materials on these topics.
CopperPoint provides workplace safety tips on these issues and more in its SafetyResources library found on its website, www.copperpoint.com. By going online, you can download a free safety plan template, order safety training cards or posters, download informational brochures regarding workers compensation insurance and watch work safety videos. CopperPoint has also launched www.pinpointnews.net, a blog written by subject matter experts designed to answer labor law, workplace safety, human resources and workers’ compensation questions that plague small business employers.