When the mercury rises, working on a construction site can be challenging. If you go unprepared without a plan, you go to work at the risk of jeopardizing your health. However, there are time-tested measures to help you stay cool and not risk your well-being.
Here are 8 tips for staying cool at a construction site:
- Hydrate often.
- Wear thin and loose clothes.
- Take plenty of breaks.
- Start work early.
- Use a cooling vest and neck protector.
- Apply sunscreen.
- Eat light meal.
- Spritz water on yourself.
Every occupation comes with its hazards, which you can’t shirk as part of the job. Following these tips will not only help you stay cool but also prevent you from getting heat-related illnesses such as heat stroke, sunburn, skin cancer, dehydration, and so on.
Unpreparedness can lead to dehydration, which occurs when you lose fluids, and the body does not have enough fluids to carry out its normal functions. Be wary of these symptoms: extreme thirst, less urination, dizziness, tiredness.
Overheating of the body due to long exposure or physical exertion in high temperatures causes heatstroke. The symptoms are high body temperature, vomiting, headache, rapid breathing, and rapid heart rate.
If you do not want to suffer from any of these heat-related illnesses, follow the tips below to stay cool and go armed to the construction site.
Drink enough water or fluids that contain electrolytes to prevent dehydration. Electrolytes are salts and minerals, which conduct electrical impulses in the body. Sweating leads to loss of electrolytes, which leads to dehydration.
You should drink fluids every 30 minutes to prevent dehydration and heatstroke. Some good options other than cold water are coconut water, juice of fresh fruits, sports drinks like Gatorade.
Avoid soda and drinks with high alcohol concentration because they contain diuretics, which can lead to dehydration. In case you experience any of the symptoms of dehydration such as dry mouth, feeling dizzy, rapid heartbeat, lack of energy, then take a break and hydrate yourself.
Wear thin and loose clothes.
Wear clothes made of breathable fabrics, loose-fitting and light colors. When the temperature is high, the body cools itself naturally through the process of sweating. However, the cooling sensation you get as a result of sweating occurs only when the sweat gets properly evaluated. So, wear thin and loose-fitting clothes.
There are some fabrics such as cotton, which are more suited for hot weather, such as cotton. Cotton is soft, lightweight, and absorbs the sweat allowing your body to cool. Make sure that you don’t wear black colored clothes to the construction site. The color black absorbs more light and converts into heat, whereas white color reflects light, so the light does not convert to heat.
Working continuously for long stretches of time in the heat can be harmful. It can also affect your productivity and performance. So, take frequent breaks during work in a cool and shaded area.
If, while working, you feel overwhelmed or overheated, take a 5-minute break. Sit under the shade of a tree and drink some water to cool down and restore the electrolyte balance in your body.
Start work early.
The temperature peaks between 2 pm to 4 pm, so try to start work early. It may not be possible to completely avoid the sun, but you can minimize your exposure to the sun by starting work early. Adjust your work schedule so that you can start work sooner than usual. If it is not possible to make changes in your work hours, try doing the more physically demanding tasks in the first part of the day.
Use a cooling vest and neck protector.
Maybe you cannot leave the site, or you have a lot of work and can’t take frequent breaks. Worry not, there are types of equipment that will keep you cool in the summer months. You have to be sun smart to beat the heat. Slipping on a cool vest or slapping on a hat can go a long way.
Invest in a good quality Hi Vest such as ML Kishigo 1513 Ultra-Cool Polyester Black Series Heavy Duty Vest. There are also neck protectors to keep you cool and protect you from the sun. ML Kishigo Brisk Cooling Neck Protector can be attached to a hard hat. Submerge it in cold water for 2 minutes and squeeze the excess water. The company claims that it will stay cool for 5 to 10 hours.
Hard Hat Cooling Pad with Neck Shade from OccuNomix protects your head and neck from the sun. Soak the pad in cold water for 10 to 15 minutes to activate the Polymer Crystals in the pad. The company claims that it is reusable and easy to charge and provides 8 hours of cooling. It is also flame retardant.
A sunscreen will not necessarily keep you cool, but it is important to apply sunscreen before you go outside. Lather it even on cloudy days as the Ultraviolet (UV) rays can still reach you and cause sunburn and other skin-related diseases.
Buy a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects both from UV-A and UV-B rays and has an SPF or Sun Protection Factor of at least 15. Also, make sure that it is sweat-proof and water-proof so that it does not get washed away in the first few hours while you sweat.
Apply it 30 minutes before you go out into the sun so that the sunscreen gets time to get absorbed into the skin. Also, reapply it many times throughout the day.
Eat light meals.
Heavy meals such as meat-rich diets can be counter-intuitive as the body produces more heat to break down heavy food. So, instead of eating three heavy meals, eat 6 or 8 light meals throughout the day. Snack in-between work hours to provide the body with the necessary energy and nutrients it needs.
Ensure that your diet consists of enough fluids, fresh leafy vegetables, and fruits to restore the electrolyte balance and replenish the body with nutrients.
Fruits like watermelon and peaches naturally cool the body’s temperature. Foods such as fennel seeds, fenugreek seeds also cool the body. You can include foods like cucumbers, spinach, tomatoes, and seafood like fish and crab in your diet.
Spritz some water.
Spritz cold water on your face with a water spray or sprinkle some cold water over the back of your neck. Take mini-breaks throughout the day to rest and cool yourself with some water.
This quick hack will cool you down and also allow you to take your mind off work. You can also keep a damp towel overnight in the freezer, and the next day put it on the back of your neck. Or simply put ice cubes in a cloth and rub it all over your body to feel the cooling sensation.
Chances are that you can’t leave the site. Get creative! Is there a tray nearby in which you can put ice cubes? Is there a hose, which you can use to spray water on yourself?
During high temperatures and extreme heat, working on the construction site can pose a serious challenge. However, the job needs to get done, and there are many ways to stay cooler.
As listed in the above tips, plan ahead of your day. Invest in good gears such as a cooling pad, Hi Vest, hat, and so on. Keep a damp towel in the freezer overnight so that you can use it the next day. On the day of work, start work early, eat light meals, apply sunscreen often, take short and frequent breaks, drink plenty of water.