Weather Extremes : The Heat is On!

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Extreme heat can be deadly. Credit: Evanto

Heat stroke is no joke!

Whether you believe in climate change or not, there’s no denying that we’ve seem some incredible weather extremes recently. The most deadly has to be extreme heat. After all, when it’s really cold, you can always put more layers on. When it’s hot, however, there’s not much you can do, especially if you have to service tires on the side of a busy road with the sun beating down on you, or in a garage without air conditioning.

If you’re one of the few technicians who gets to work in an air-conditioned garage, then you don’t really have to worry about extreme heat. The rest of us, however, have to be able to manage the excess heat or risk serious damage to our health. Ignore the warning signs, and you might end up in the hospital, or worse.

Heat stroke prevention

Whether your work in a shop, or you’re a road service warrior, you know how miserable extreme heat can be. That said, if you can’t avoid the heat, then you’ll need to manage the impact it can have on your body.

You first line of defence is hydration. According to medical experts, staying hydrated will help your body sweat, which in turn will help lower your body temperature. These same experts will tell you that water is best, and that soft drinks, energy drinks and caffeine should be avoided.

How you dress when on the job is important. Loose-fitting, lightweight and lighter-colour clothing (especially if you work out in the sun), will help your body cool properly. And while we’re on the subject of working outdoors in the sun, if you can figure out a way to stay in the shade, rather than in direct sunlight, that’ll be a big help.

Throughout your day, be sure to take more frequent breaks. If you’re an employer, consider allowing your techs to take a breather and to cool off, more frequently than they might otherwise do on days where extreme heat is not a problem. Finally, if air-conditioning is out of the question, improve air circulation within your shop with the help of fans, and by keeping all the doors and windows open for added air circulation.

Recognize warning signs

Despite your best efforts to stay cool, your body may still overheat. So learn to recognize the warning signs, and monitor your own well being. Besides a higher body temperature, you might also experience headaches, a racing heart rate or rapid breathing. Flushed skin is another danger sign, as is nausea.

Some heat stroke victims will experience an altered mental state marked by confusion, delirium, slurred speech or even a seizure. Ignore these signs and you might make mistakes while working on a vehicle that will cost you your life. In extreme cases, you might pass out and end up in a coma.

If you see one of your coworkers suffering these symptoms, call your local emergency services immediately, get your coworker out of the sun or the heat, remove any excess clothing they might be wearing, and do your best to cool them down with whatever you have on hand: water from a garden hose, a sponge soaked with cool water, ice packs, a wet towel, etc.

Heat stroke is no joke. Take care of your health, stay in the game, and stay safe!


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