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Hydration Prevents Accidents by Matt White

Matt White. PHOTO Matt White

Stay cool, stay safe.  

In our business, especially on service calls, you need your head to be in the game. That’s hard to do if you’re fighting heatstroke or heat exhaustion. One wrong move, you can get hurt.

Staying hydrated

We tire guys have a “get ‘er done” mentality—sometimes, part of that is taking care of your body. That means staying hydrated in the hot weather. If you go on a service call, lots of guys will take coffee and sugar drinks but forget the water.

You need hydration. You need water. And you need to know the warning signs of heatstroke and heat exhaustion.

Pale skin, lack of sweat, red flushed skin, high body temperature, rapid pulse, difficulty breathing, nausea, dizziness, muscle cramps, headaches. Those are the warning signs, the beginning of heatstroke.

You stop sweating, you stop urinating because your body has sucked up all the water. When your body has run out of water, you start running out of time.

When you’re out in the sun, wear light clothing, cover your head, and use sunscreen. A brimmed hat protects you from the sun. More people are getting skin cancer from the sun, so wear long sleeves. You can get summer-style safety clothes that will keep you cool.

Leave early or later instead of the dead heat. And remember to drink plenty of water to replace lost electrolytes. Your body needs water to break down electrolytes during the digestive process.

Caffeinated and high sugar drinks like pop and iced tea or coffee should be avoided because they actually contribute to dehydration!

Preventing accidents

When you’re loading up the truck, put in some ice and water and a towel. You can use the towel with the ice and water on your neck to cool you down. And know when to take a break.

Don’t just go straight through and push yourself, because that’s when you could make a mistake. You may not be thinking right due to dehydration and heat stroke setting in, causing you to get injured.

In Canada, we’re not used to the heat. We only get it for a few months. That means we’re even more vulnerable. Everyone should be aware of it, as a best practice.

There’s the mentality of trying to be like the guys on social media. One guy posts the “flavour of the day” of an energy drink and boasts that he drinks four or five of them a day.

Young guys think that’s cool. But it’s like smoking, like an addiction. It can become part of a harmful routine. They don’t understand how bad it is for you.

These guys on social media, the race car drivers, get paid to promote it, but do they actually drink it? They’re just doing it for the money.

If you’re in a shop, you may not have air conditioning. You need to have airflow, from one of those industrial-style shop fans. Put them at the entrance and circulate the air.

When our service tech goes out on a call, he’s in the sun all day. We make sure he checks in, to have that communication.

Your supervisor should be keeping an eye on that, making sure the guy’s off-site check-in and everyone is wearing good protective clothing. That’s not overkilling—it’s preventing an accident.


Matt White is the Director of Tire Services for the Tire Industry Association (TIA). He has over 34 years of experience training technicians from all over the globe on how to stay safe on the job.
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