How to Stay Cool in the Summer Heat – At Work and At Home

June 23, 2022 | Activate Learning | 8 min read

All heat-related deaths and illnesses are preventable. Yet, an average of 658 people die each year as a result of exposure to extreme heat.

The summer before last, the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) did an in-depth study on heat exposure. The study revealed that more than one-quarter of the U.S. population suffered from symptoms such as nausea, muscle cramps, fainting, and confusion resulting from exposure to extreme heat.

Who is included in the most vulnerable populations? Women, people in low-income households, and those who identify as Hispanic or Latino. In the workplace, OSHA reports that more than 40% of heat-related worker deaths occur in the construction industry, but workers in every field are susceptible.

Heat Stress in the Workplace

Over the years, Skillsoft has shared tips for working safely in the heat and advice on how to prevent occupational heat exposure. We have suggested that employees wear light-colored clothing, drink more water and less caffeine, and take frequent breaks in the shade. We even created a guide on the dangers of working in extreme temperatures, and how to prevent them.

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If you are concerned about your employees’ well-being this summer, you may want to consider assigning some of our compliance training courses on heat stress:

  • Heat Stress Recognition and Prevention
    Each year, more people in the United States die from extreme heat than from hurricanes, lightning, tornados, floods, and earthquakes combined. This course discusses the effects of heat on your body, outlines the risk factors for heat-related illnesses, and describes the associated treatments for each. It also explains several control measure techniques and safe work practices that you can use to prevent heat-related stresses.
  • Heat Stress Impact: Symptoms
    Heat stress occurs when the body fails to control its internal temperature. If heat stress is not recognized and treated early, it can have serious effects on the body such as prickly heat, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. It is important to know the signs and symptoms of heat exposure to ensure its treated properly.
  • Heat Stress Impact: Treatment
    When human body temperature fails to regulate and rises to critical levels, it indicates that the person is under heat stress. Learn the symptoms of heat stress and what should be done to treat it – including how to respond if someone is experiencing heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Top Tips to Beat the Summer Heat at Home

You do not have to work in the heat every day to be susceptible to heat stress in the summertime. Because the summer is the longest vacation period of the year, it is a time when many off-duty injuries and illnesses occur.

The top five injuries and illnesses associated with summer are:

  • Heat-related illness
  • Swimming injuries / drowning
  • Sunburn
  • Bicycle-related injuries
  • Bug bites

While you should consider the other hazards, today our focus is on heat.

The United States had its hottest summer on record in 2021, narrowly beating an earlier record that was set in 1936 during the Dust Bowl. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that the average summer temperature for the lower 48 states was 74 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s 2.6 degrees warmer than average. In addition, more than 18% of the contiguous U.S. experienced record high temperatures. NOAA officials also noted that, “No state ranked below average for the summer season.”

With summer’s higher temperatures, you’ll want to watch your time in the heat whether you’re working on the landscaping or riding your bike on a greenway. You can protect yourself by:

  • Scheduling outdoor activities. It is likely to be cooler in mornings and evenings. Plan outdoor activities and errands for those times.
  • Safeguarding yourself from the sun. When you do go outside, wear sunscreen that is SPF 15 or higher. Wear loose-fitting, light-colored clothing. Soak a handkerchief in cold water and put it around your neck to stay cool. Take breaks in the shade.
  • Finding a place to cool off! Plan to visit malls, community centers, public libraries, or other air-conditioned locations.
  • Minimizing heat exposure. If you are inside your home, take cool showers. Close your windows and blinds. Use air conditioning or fans whenever possible.
  • Hydrating. Drink water. The more active you are and the more time you spend in the heat, the more water you’ll need to replace lost fluids from perspiration.

DID YOU KNOW? A fan will not prevent heat-related illness if the temperature is in the high 90s or above.

Above all else, if you begin experiencing symptoms of heat-related illness – headaches, dizziness, nausea, cramps, etc. – get to a cooler place and if needed, seek medical help immediately.

101 Critical Days of Summer

Each year, the Department of Defense hosts an awareness campaign from Memorial Day to Labor Day called “101 Critical Days of Summer.” Their goal is to help members of the military – and their families and communities – stay safe from these (and other) common injuries and illnesses in the summertime.

This year, Skillsoft has created a series of four compliance briefs (each 10-15 minutes in length), based on the concept of this program, to help any company looking to provide employees, their families, and the community with important information and insight into common summer safety hazards. After all, workers are not the only people impacted by the summer heat – friends, family, and community are at risk as well.

Following is a description of the summer safety compliance briefs:

  • Compliance Brief: Summer Safety - Food and Fun
    This course is designed to help learners identify safety measures to take to avoid becoming injured during common summer outdoor activities, including barbeques, fireworks, playgrounds, sports, walking, jogging, and bicycling.
  • Compliance Brief: Summer Safety on the Water
    This course focuses on boating safety. Topics covered include preparation checklists, safety gear and procedures, developing a float plan, nautical rules of the road, the dangers of alcohol, and how to use personal watercraft safely.
  • Compliance Brief: Summer Safety in the Water
    This course describes risks and safety measures associated with swimming in pools and open water. The content addresses how to secure your pool, pool chemical safety, safe swimming practices, how to manage getting caught in a rip current, and the proper use of sunscreen/sunblock.
  • Compliance Brief: Summer Vehicle Safety
    This course describes risks and hazards associated with summer driving, riding motorcycles, and using recreational off-road vehicles.

Any Skillsoft customer that has access to our library of content will have access to these briefs automatically – and we invite them to share what they have learned as widely as possible.

Stay cool and stay safe out there. And let us know if you would like access to our new series of summer compliance briefs.