Working during a heat wave


In the summer months, the weather can be quite tropical. Sometimes there’s even a heat wave: this is when the temperature is 25 degrees or more for at least five days in a row. On occasion, the temperature can even break the 30-degree mark and high levels of air humidity can make things very muggy and sticky. All in all, not very pleasant for people and animals, employees and employers.

Keeping cool when the temperature soars

Here are some useful tips for keeping cool when the temperature rises:

  1. Drink plenty of water. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty, but keep drinking throughout the day. Heat makes you sweat faster, so you lose moisture and energy. If you drink too little, you get tired more quickly and lose focus. Lukewarm tea is recommended; ice-cold water might be tempting, but it will actually make your body temperature rise even more.
  2. Eat spicy food. This might sound strange, but spicy food makes you sweat. This helps to get rid of heat and cools down the body.
  3. Have a lukewarm shower instead of a cold one. A cold shower constricts the blood vessels, which makes it harder for your body to get rid of the heat and actually makes you warmer.
  4. Create a heat-wave schedule for when the temperature rises. For example, start working earlier or swap the days and half-days on which you work.
  5. If possible, postpone strenuous physical activities and avoid strenuous exercise, for example, until the morning or evening hours. Also take more frequent breaks.
  6. Wherever possible, turn on fewer lights and turn off heat-generating appliances (or put them in a separate room).
  7. Wear airy, light-coloured clothing made of breathable materials such as cotton and linen. If necessary, you can temporarily adapt the dress code at work.
  8. Ensure good ventilation at home and at the workplace by using an air conditioning system or fan.
  9. Wear sunscreen. Protecting your skin is important. Apply sunscreen (at least factor 15) every two hours. If you work outside, wear a T-shirt and a cap (preferably with a neck flap) and work in the shade as much as possible.
  10. Avoid alcohol. A cold beer is great, but it is not recommended if you still have to work in such high temperatures.
  11. Keep windows, doors, and curtains closed during the day as much as possible. You can open everything again if the temperature drops in the evening.
  12. In the event of medical problems, consult a doctor or a company doctor in good time.

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