You do not have to work in the heat every day to be susceptible to heat stress in the summertime. Because the summer is the longest vacation period of the year, it is a time when many off-duty injuries and illnesses occur.
The top five injuries and illnesses associated with summer are:
- Heat-related illness
- Swimming injuries / drowning
- Bicycle-related injuries
- Bug bites
While you should consider the other hazards, today our focus is on heat.
The United States had its hottest summer on record in 2021, narrowly beating an earlier record that was set in 1936 during the Dust Bowl. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that the average summer temperature for the lower 48 states was 74 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s 2.6 degrees warmer than average. In addition, more than 18% of the contiguous U.S. experienced record high temperatures. NOAA officials also noted that, “No state ranked below average for the summer season.”
With summer’s higher temperatures, you’ll want to watch your time in the heat whether you’re working on the landscaping or riding your bike on a greenway. You can protect yourself by:
- Scheduling outdoor activities. It is likely to be cooler in mornings and evenings. Plan outdoor activities and errands for those times.
- Safeguarding yourself from the sun. When you do go outside, wear sunscreen that is SPF 15 or higher. Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing. Soak a handkerchief in cold water and put it around your neck to stay cool. Take breaks in the shade.
- Finding a place to cool off! Plan to visit malls, community centers, public libraries, or other air-conditioned locations.
- Minimizing heat exposure. If you are inside your home, take cool showers. Close your windows and blinds. Use air conditioning or fans whenever possible.
- Hydrating. Drink water. The more active you are and the more time you spend in the heat, the more water you’ll need to replace lost fluids from perspiration.
DID YOU KNOW? A fan will not prevent heat-related illness if the temperature is in the high 90s or above.
Above all else, if you begin experiencing symptoms of heat-related illness – headaches, dizziness, nausea, cramps, etc. – get to a cooler place and if needed, seek medical help immediately.