The majority of employees for service-oriented businesses spend a great deal of time outdoors. During the winter they bundle on the extra layers, while in the summer they often cope with unrelenting heat. At 1-800-GOT-JUNK? our busy season coincides with those warmer days, and with heat-related hazards a serious risk, knowing how to cope effectively in hot weather translates to jobs getting done and customers remaining happy.
Here is some sound advice for those of you working strenuously outdoors in warmer climates. First, it’s important to know that heat-related illnesses can happen to anybody, old or young, fit or unfit. Our bodies all function with heat in the same way: we generate and let go of heat. The harder we work, the more heat we have to lose. And if it’s hot around us, our bodies work even harder to get rid of the heat. So when the air cools or a breeze kicks up we shed body heat more easily.
Another factor to keep in mind is that we actually can acclimate to hotter temperatures. So those of us working outdoors in the Pacific Northwest, for example, may be challenged to spend a few days hefting heavy boxes down in central Florida. If you are travelling for a summer job that requires you to exert a lot of energy in a climate you are not used to, it is definitely worthwhile taking the time to acclimate yourself for a few days (and encourage your employer to take the save view!).
- 1. Begin the day very well-hydrated and continue to drink water steadily throughout the day
Keep a cooler with bottled water in the truck or warehouse so it’s handy for everyone.
- 2. Pace yourself by taking scheduled breaks regularly
A scheduled lunch will ensure everyone gets some cool air. If some work can be carried out in the shade, spell off your co-workers by taking turns in the sun, shade, or indoors.
- 3. Wear lightweight clothing and remove protective gear when it’s safe
Re-familiarize yourself with your company’s uniform policy and find out if it changes in the summer. Can you remove your cap when you are not customer-facing?
- 4. Closely watch co-workers for signs of heat-related illness
These include: headaches, dizziness, and nausea. Failing to take these symptoms seriously can lead to serious harm, even death in rare cases, not to mention the down-time for the company.
- 5. Avoid drinking caffeine or eating heavy meals
Caffeine is dehydrating and heavy meals make you sluggish, so your body has to burn off more energy. Enough said.
If your clients and customers are anything like ours, you may luck out with a tall, cool glass of lemonade the next time you deliver wow service! Enjoy the summer!
Tania Venn is Director, PR for 1-800-GOT-JUNK?. Her other responsibilities include leading the PR team for WOW 1Day! Painting and You Move Me. In her spare time Tania enjoys the outdoors, hiking in summer and skiing and snowshoeing in winter. Tania can be found on Google+ and LinkedIn.