How to Beat the Summer Heat at Work

Not all of us enjoy working in the comfort of an air-conditioned office. Many toil under the summer sun or in over-heated factories, making it a challenge to stay cool. If that's you, these tips can help you beat the heat.

Lighten up. Darker colors absorb more sunlight, so dress for the heat with light-colored clothing in breathable fabrics. Nothing should be too tight so it can allow for good airflow. If acceptable at your workplace, wear short sleeved shirts, shorts or a skirt.

Protect Yourself. Think you don't need sunscreen on cloudy days? Think again. According to the American Academy of Dermatology up to 80 percent of the sun's harmful rays can still penetrate your skin when there's cloud cover. Look for a water resistant, broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30, and offers protection against UVA and UVB rays. Reapply at least one ounce (enough to fill a shot glass) every two hours. Slather up 15 minutes prior to going outdoors so it dries completely. Add sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays and a wide-brimmed hat to shade your face and shoulders and keep you cooler in general.

Cool it. Work in well-ventilated areas or try to stay on the lowest floor available out of the sun. Workplaces should have plenty of ventilation with cooling spots. Good airflow increases evaporation of sweat, which cools the skin.

Drink up. Drink plenty of water or juice and avoid sugary sodas, energy drinks, coffee or other hot beverages which can accelerate dehydration. Under moderately strenuous outdoor activity, your body loses fluids faster than it can absorb them. Aim for one cup of cool water every 20 minutes even if you don't feel thirsty. One caveat: If you are on fluid-restrictive diet or have a problem with fluid retention consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.

Pace Yourself. Slow down and take breaks in an air conditioned area to give your body a chance to recover from the heat. If you spend even two hours a day in a cooler area, it can significantly reduce the risk of heat-related illness. Plan your most strenuous work for the hours before or after 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., the hottest part of the day.

Cleanliness Counts. Warmer temperatures mean more of us may be lunching outside or holding company picnics. Always wash hands with hot, soapy water before and after handling food and drinks. Perishable foods should never be left out for more than two hours; only one hour if the temperature is above 90°.

Be Aware. Mental confusion, a flushed face, and dry hot skin are classic signs of heat stroke. If you start to feel light-headed, dizzy, or weak take a break immediately. Seek medical attention if these symptoms don't subside after getting out of the heat. Watch out for other heat-related hazards like smog and ozone which affect breathing.

While safety is important all year long, additional precautions are needed during hot months. These tips should help you stay cool, comfortable and productive despite the summertime temperatures.



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