Stay Safe in the Summer Heat


Stay Safe in the Summer Heat

High temperatures and humidity combined with heavy physical labor can lead to serious illness and even death. Without proper hydration and rest in the shade, your body temperature can rise to unsafe levels and cause heat exhaustion or even heat stroke. Prevent heat illness by keeping four simple things in mind: Water. Rest. Shade. Watch. 


Stay hydrated. Drink water every 15 minutes, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Avoid caffeine.

“We encourage our employees to avoid soda and stick with water or PowerAde,” said Vallena “V” Alcantar, safety manager at Sun State Components in North Las Vegas, Nevada. “We even have a stocked PowerAde machine. We also always have plenty of electrolyte tablets on hand. They can be hard to find in this part of the country, but we’re ready for the season.” It’s also helpful, V suggests, to have an ice machine and portable water coolers. Sun State has an Igloo cooler at every work station to ensure the people in the yard have immediate access to fresh, cool water.


Take breaks as needed. Sitting down in a cool, shaded place for as little as five minutes can help you recover if you’re starting to feel over-heated. 

Sun State employees get two scheduled breaks and a lunch each day but, if they feel the need, they are encouraged to take additional short breaks. At U.S. Components in Tuscon, Arizona, employees are regularly reminded that if they start to feel dizzy or nauseous, they should let a supervisor know and head in from the yard to be checked out. John Westendorf, U.S. Components safety manager, however, is thankful they’ve never had any sort of serious heat illness incident.


Wear a broad-brimmed hat and light-colored, lightweight clothing.  

“We provide hats with neck covers,” V explained. “We also purchase cooling towels they can soak in water and wrap around their necks or wrists.” Both companies change the timing of their shifts to avoid working through the hottest part of the day. “When it’s really hot, we start around 4 am, so we’re done at 
1 pm or so,” John said. 


Learn the signs of heat illness. Call a supervisor; if none is available, call 911.

V and John both host a safety meeting every year when the temperatures start to increase. In addition, John uses Operation Safety “Working in Hot Conditions” posters in multiple locations around the plant. “We have one poster in our break room and another in the common area of our tool shed out in the yard,” John added. The posters are constant reminders for everyone to be mindful of the heat.

About the Author: Molly E. Butz worked with CMs to develop the original SBCA Operation Safety Program and has over 12 years of experience helping CMs develop and maintain safety best practices. 

FREE Download: Heat Illness Warning Signs Poster

More Safety Ideas:

  • Post this article and the warning signs poster in a prominent place where employees will see it. Share these reminders at a staff safety meeting.
  • SBCA’s Operation Safety posters
  • OSHA’s Heat Safety Tool App (for Android or iPhone)