As the weather slowly warms up, outdoor workers are taking this opportunity to adjust how they go about their jobs. Since they’ll be spending their workdays in the elements regardless of weather conditions, tower climbers especially need to be prepared for the rising temperatures. Otherwise, they risk developing heat stress or, in extreme cases, heat stroke. Brought about by excessive physical exertion in high heat, these conditions are incredibly dangerous and can result in serious injury or worse on the job. So, to best protect yourself as spring quickly turns into summer, make sure you know how to prevent a heat stroke for tower climbers.
What to Know About Heat Stroke
Before you can properly prepare yourself for the warmer months ahead, it’s crucial that you first know what the risks of heat stroke are. Just as hypothermia often begins by developing frostbite, heat stroke begins once you develop the initial symptoms of heat stress. As you work in elevated temperatures, your core body temperature begins to rise. If your body isn’t equipped to properly release that extra warmth, it can begin to hinder your core bodily functions and evolve into a serious medical emergency. The first signs of heat stress can manifest in increasing discomfort, both physical and mental, in response to the hot environment. This often causes individuals to develop headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and muscle cramps. If left unaddressed, these symptoms can worsen into heavy sweating, rapid pulse, nausea, and even vomiting. Because cases of heat stroke can be life-threatening, make sure you’re aware of these signs in order to protect yourself and those around you.
Ways to Best Prevent Heat Stroke
Even knowing what heat stroke looks and feels like, it doesn’t solve the issue if you’re still unsure of how to respond. This is why it’s crucial that you know how to prevent heat stroke as a tower climber and the factors that go into bettering your condition. These are a few effective ways you can help reduce the risk while at hard at work.
Get Precautions in Place Before the Climb
No matter what conditions are like at a job site, a tower climber should never begin the ascent before making all necessary safety preparations. Doing so not only puts themselves in a potentially dangerous situation, but it also makes them a hazard for team members working around them. As such, just like you need to perform inspections on your equipment before a climb, you need to double-check your safety plan to ensure precautions are in place. This involves assessing the threats of a job site and putting plans into place to counteract them if needed. On days when heat stroke is a real threat, it’s crucial that the team is supplied with ample amounts of water and trained to help a coworker experiencing the beginning symptoms. Anyone who is already experiencing heat stroke ailments before a climb shouldn’t continue to work that day, as their condition will only worsen with exertion.
Make Training a Priority
Along with putting safety precautions in place, you should also put in extra effort to educate and train your peers in the dangers of heat stroke. This way, they’re all well equipped to react in a troubling situation and know what to do to help. Similar to training workers in how most effectively use their tools, providing them with the knowledge necessary to keep themselves physically healthy is an essential part of the job. After all, if you and your peers aren’t in top shape, the job won’t be completed correctly.
Wear Breathable Clothing
Like donning a short-sleeved shirt in the winter will guarantee you hypothermia, wearing heavier clothing in warmer weather is a surefire way to get yourself heat sick. So when working under the harsh sunlight, it’s essential that you’re wearing clothing that allows you to release some of your body’s excess heat. Of course, as a tower climber, there’s a list of other things you should be wearing, such as regulation work boots, jeans, and gloves for your own protection. As such, you’ll need to find other ways to lighten your load. This is why many tower climbers opt to wear lighter clothes that help release sweat and cool them off. At the same time, the clothing you wear should be tight enough to not hang loose but not so tight as to restrict your movements.
Apply (and Reapply) Sunscreen
Since you’ll be out in the direct sunlight, it’s also important that you’re regularly putting on sunscreen to protect yourself from harmful UV rays. While it might seem tedious at the time, getting a sunburn is another common way to get dehydrated and make you susceptible to heat stroke. As such, make sure that you’re applying a product with a sun protection factor of at least 30 and reapplying every two hours. This will ensure that you’re always protected from the sun even on the longest, hottest days at the office.
Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
In addition to wearing sunscreen, keeping yourself hydrated will help your body cool itself down in the high temperatures. It’s for this reason that workers are supplied with ample amounts of water off of the tower and are required to bring their own for the climb. This way they can always replenish their fluid levels and protect their bodies from developing the first signs of heat stress. As an important note, be sure that you continue to drink water even if you don’t feel thirsty. In fact, by the time you’re feeling the first pangs of thirst, you’re already dehydrated and need to drink extra to keep from serious repercussions.
At Midwest Unlimited, it’s our mission to not only provide you with tower climbing safety equipment, but we also want to supply you with the knowledge to protect yourself in hazardous work conditions. Heat stroke is one of the many hazards that tower climbers face regularly, and it’s up to these professionals to work together to stop these issues before they start.