Do you work outdoors? Good hydration is a top-of-mind topic

THE FIRST DAY OF SUMMER of 2018 arrived on Thursday, June 21 — at 6:07 a.m. EDT, to be exact. In Central Florida, the headquarters for Safety Solutions & Supply (Mulberry, Fla.), the day was pretty much like the late-spring days that preceded it — hot, humid, and muggy. Since then, outdoor daytime conditions have only gotten hotter, more stifling, and more dangerous for people who work and play hard outdoors.
For those playing outside, there’s usually the option to get out of the sun and heat and find relief indoors in air-conditioned comfort. For those who work outdoors, well, they generally have to stay there until the task at hand is completed. That’s when the critical need for proper hydration (with water or other suitable liquid intake) and work accommodations for the heat come into play. No one wants to succumb to dehydration, heatstroke, or other heat-related conditions.
According to, there are six very important things to note about good hydration for outdoor workers.
1. The human body requires fluid to control temperature and maintain muscle function. In hot, and hard-working conditions, workers can lose up to 1.5 liters of water each hour just by sweating.
2. Replacing body fluids lost through sweating is the single most important way to control heat stress and keep workers comfortable, productive, alert, and safe.
3. Hydration experts recommend drinking 5 to 7 ounces of fluids every 15 to 20 minutes — not just during rest breaks — to stay sufficiently hydrated and maintain a safe body temperature.
4. Drink before, during, and after physical labor to replace body fluid lost in sweating.
5. By the time you’re thirsty, you’re already about 2 percent dehydrated. Once you’re dehydrated, it’s difficult to make up for that lost hydration.
6. Keep individual containers of cool (not necessarily cold) and clean water within easy reach at all times. Carbohydrate/electrolyte drinks help people avoid heat cramps that can occur up to several hours after working.
Elsewhere on the Web, has a good list of nine recommendations to help beat the heat at the outdoor job site this summer. Echoing EHSToday, No. 1 on the list is “Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.” Here, briefly, is how the rest of the recommendations go:
2. Get acclimated. Don’t overdo it. Adjust to the heat and heat and strenuous activity gradually.
3. Dress for success. Go to work in light-colored, loose-fitting, and lightweight clothing.
4. Get an early start. Avoid working during the hottest part of the day, if possible.
5. Made in the shade. Take frequent breaks in the shade — if shade is available.
6. Lather on the sunscreen. Avoid sunburns and the chance of a later-in-life onset of skin cancer.
7. Keep cool. Bring down your body temperature in an air-conditioned vehicle or job-site trailer, in front of a fan, or with a wipe-down using a cool, wet cloth.
8. Mind the heat index. The high temperature is just part of this equation. A high relative humidity will make conditions even hotter and potentially more dangerous.
9. Know the signs. Is someone on the work crew or a supervisor trained to recognize and provide first aid for heat stress, heat rash, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heatstroke? That’s a very important consideration for any employer who sends workers out to do a job in the summertime heat.
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