Summer’s here and the heat is blazing in Austin! Our expert moving crews spend a great deal of our time working outdoors in the hottest weather Texas can dish up, and we know the hazards of intense summertime heat as well as anyone does.
We’ve learned a few coping skills over the years we’ve spent moving households in Austin’s hottest — and busiest — season. Now we’d like to share a few tips to help keep you safe while you’re completing your own heavy outdoor jobs like home improvement and yard maintenance.
Recognize the warning signs
When you’re really involved in your work it’s easy to miss out on the symptoms of heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke. So make sure you and your work buddies keep an eye on each other. Watch for indicators like muscle cramps, sudden weakness or dizziness, a high body temperature without sweating, and feelings of nausea, irritability or confusion. Any of these can be signs of heat exhaustion or the beginnings of heat stroke.
If you or a friend experiences any of these symptoms, take immediate steps to alleviate them. Get out of the sun, drink some water and use a cold compress on wrists, forehead and neck to cool your temperature down fast. Blacking out, seizures, or periods of confusion are serious problems that need medical attention — call 911 right away if these occur.
It’s much easier to avoid heat stroke or heat exhaustion than it is to deal with these debilitating symptoms, so take care of yourself when you’re outdoors working in the heat. Avoid spending all your time in the sun by moving some jobs into the shade or putting up a tarp to keep an area protected from the sun.
Allow yourself a good break every now and then, and make sure you take your break in a cool, well-ventilated spot. Take it easy — don’t try to complete a big job all at once. Stay away from caffeine and alcohol while you’re working, as they tend to dehydrate you. And make sure you’re drinking enough water. About 32 ounces of water for each hour you’re working in the heat will keep you well hydrated. Drink it even if you don’t feel thirsty! You’re going to sweat most of that water right out.
Make sure your clothes are appropriate for the hot weather. Protect yourself from the sun with loose-fitting, lightweight clothes made from a breathable fabric — cotton and cotton/poly blends are probably best. Avoid those workout clothes made of “wicking” fabrics, though. They’ll remove the perspiration from your skin before it has time to evaporate, which doesn’t give your body the cooling benefit of sweating.
Err on the side of caution
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are more serious than most folks think. Every year about 700 people die from complications that started with exposure to extreme heat, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And the temperatures that lead to heat stroke are pretty common here in Texas — prolonged exposure to anything over 91 degrees has the potential to cause you harm.
We care about our friends and neighbors here in Austin, so please be cautious when you’re working out in the sun. Take a break before you’re tired, drink water before you’re thirsty, and above all, keep an eye on your buddies. We wish you all a safe, healthy summer!