July 3 marks the beginning of what is traditionally called the “dog days of summer.” According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, the dog days start around July 3 and extend until about August 11. This is when we experience the hottest days of the year.
It’s easy to stay mindful of injuries on the job caused by heat. After all, we have rules, regulations, and standards for work. However, it’s common to forget them when working on the job or at home. Keeping safe from the heat is important no matter where you are. Here are some safety tips for you and your family to follow during the dog days of summer.
Heat-related safety tips
These first set of tips concern keeping your body safe from the sun and heat. Let’s start with the number one tip on many lists.
- Stay ultra-hydrated – Make sure you drink plenty of water when performing strenuous activities like yard work or running. Additionally, sports drinks and similar products replenish your internal water supply and add the electrolytes lost from sweating heavily.
- Save heavy work for the cooler hours – Perform strenuous, labor intensive work in the early morning or cooler evening hours. Any work that can be done earlier or later in the day will be less stressful on your body.
- Stay out of direct sun whenever possible – If you must work or play in the sun, be sure to apply sunscreen! And that goes double for the kids. Wait at least 30 minutes after putting it on before you go outside. Reapply often.
- Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing – Dark colors absorb heat, so avoid them. And make sure it’s loose fitting to give your skin room to breathe.
- Watch out for extreme temperature changes – If you’re indoors with the A/C running cold, be careful if you go out into the extreme heat. Give your body time to acclimate to the change. Reminder: Don’t forget that sidewalk can be hot! Wear shoes or sandals to protect your feet.
Watch out for yourself and others… additional cool tips for the heat
Be a good partner, parent, and neighbor. It’s possible for someone to suffer in the heat and not realize it or be able to do anything about it.
Here are some “buddy” tips.
- Be mindful of family and friends without air conditioning – Make it a point to check on them, particularly the elderly. If possible, get them to a cooler location during the hot part of the day. Malls, theaters, and libraries are great options.
- If you must work in the heat, use the buddy system – While working with your “buddy,” watch for the signs of heat-related illnesses like heat cramps, exhaustion, and stroke. Keep the items on hand you’ll need to render first-aid assistance.
- Monitor your children and pets while they are enjoying the outdoors – Children only concentrate on playing and don’t always consider the safety precautions. Never leave kids, as well as people with limited mobility or pets, in a parked vehicle alone. The temperature inside can quickly soar to 120 degrees F. Additionally, make sure that your pets outside have plenty of water and are kept in a shaded area. Don’t let them stay out in the heat for too long!
- Take it easy on the road when driving – Oils collect on and absorb into the roadway, particularly asphalt. The heat can draw that oily substance to the surface, and a sudden mid-summer storm can cause the highway to become slick.
- Be aware of the wildlife out there – Look out for chiggers, ticks, and mosquitos. Make sure you use plenty of insect repellant on your skin and clothes. Long pants and boots help guard against bites. Keep a fully stocked first aid kit with you when hiking, playing, or camping outdoors. Fun fact: Did you know that snakes love to hide under rocks in the heat of the day and don’t like to be disturbed? Some stones are best left unturned.
- Cooking out is fun until somebody gets careless – We know to be careful with open flames around dry lawns, grasslands, or timbers. However, it’s also important to remember that meat spoils quickly in the heat. So, make sure you’re cooking meat thoroughly and not leaving it sit in the sun for too long, especially if it’s raw.
The dog days of summer can be fun… if you’re careful to beat the heat
It takes a little common sense to have fun in the sun. If you’re not careful, even that family outing at the beach could turn into an emergency room visit. Don’t let that happen!
Stay safe out in the sun and be mindful of the weather. Know and look for the symptoms of heat related illnesses, as well as the proper first aid measures and get the victim professional help quickly.
Don’t let the dog days of summer bite you!
Additional resources to keep you safe:
Extreme heat tips from the Department of Homeland Security – https://www.ready.gov/heat
The National Safety Council webpage on heat-related illnesses – https://www.nsc.org/home-safety/tools-resources/seasonal-safety/summer/heat
The American Red Cross tips for staying safe in the heat – https://www.redcross.org/local/dakotas/about-us/news-and-events/news/ten-tips-for-staying-safe-in-the-summer-heat.html
The National Weather Service heat index information – https://www.weather.gov/safety/heat-index
Summer safety tips from WebMD – https://www.webmd.com/women/features/surviving-summer#1