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Risks increase in working outdoors as temperatures rise

It’s hot, but the summer temperatures to date are not sizzling to record heights. At least, not yet. Hopefully, not ever.

The National Weather Service reports that the all-time hottest temperature in Kansas City was 113 degrees on Aug. 14, 1936. Every single date in the months of July and August have had at least one 100-degree weather temperature day, dating back to 1889. Daily records were set on July 13 (112 degrees) and on July 14 and 18 (111 degrees), all in 1954.

 The risks of heat stress for working/playing/being outdoors increase as temperatures rise.

  According to OSHA, working in full sunlight can increase heat index values by 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Keep this in mind and plan additional precautions for working in these conditions. Some risk factors for working outside are:

• High temperature and humidity
• Radiant heat sources
• Contact with hot objects
• Direct sun exposure (with no shade)
• Limited air movement (no breeze, wind or ventilation)

 Some tips to prevent heat-related illness while working outdoors include:

• Drink water every 15 minutes, even if you are not thirsty.
• Rest in the shade to cool down.
• Wear a hat and light-colored clothing.
• Learn the signs of heat illness (heat stroke and heat exhaustion) and what to do in an emergency.
• Keep an eye on fellow workers, or let someone know you’ll be working outside.
• Acclimate – “easy does it” on your first days of work; be sure to get used to the heat and allow yourself to build up a tolerance – OSHA says it takes a week. Not being used to the heat is a big problem. Many of the people who died from heat stress were either new to working in the heat or returning from a break. If you have not worked in hot weather for a week or more, your body needs time to adjust.

OSHA has developed a Heat Safety app to calculate the heat index. Based on the heat index, this app displays a risk level to outdoor workers. Then, with a simple “click,” you can get reminders about the protective measures.