Clear summer weather makes this time of year a great opportunity to get work done outdoors, whether you’re working on construction, farming, landscaping, or do-it-yourself home improvement projects. However, the extreme heat that often occurs in the peak of summer can create risks for those working outside. Here are our summer tips for working outside with equipment:
Keep Yourself Hydrated
Dehydration is not only bad for your general health, it can also make you drowsy and inattentive while operating equipment, putting you at risk for injury. You should drink around 2 liters of water every day, and the hotter it is the more you need to stay hydrated. Make sure you have enough water available to you for any long outdoors workday, and avoid drinks with alcohol, caffeine, or sugar, as they contribute to dehydration.
Avoid the Hottest Hours
To the extent that you can, minimize your use of heavy equipment during peak heat hours in the summer (typically between 11AM and 5PM). Working hard in direct sunlight during these hours can take a toll on your body, and can also cause engines and radiators to overheat and incur damage.
Watch the Displays
Particularly when working during those hottest hours, keep a close eye on your equipment’s displays — especially any temperature indicators — for malfunctions or signals that it may be getting close to overheating. If it needs to cool off, immediately stop equipment operation.
Store in the Shade
When you’re done using a machine, or if it is at risk of overheating, do not leave it out in the sun. Place the equipment in the shade and have it idle before powering down. If you’re storing it for a period of time, place the machine in indoor storage or at least cover it with a tarp to protect it from the elements.
Give Yourself Breaks
When you can, be sure to give yourself time in the shade as well. Whether on the farm or the construction site, brief stops inside or even under a tree to catch your breath, drink your water, and give your skin a break from the sun can be key to preventing your body from overheating. When planning your day, schedule specific times for those breaks.
Protect Your Skin
“Farmer’s tans” are no joke, as consistent exposure to UV rays can put you at risk for melanoma. Even if you are using a tractor or other heavy machinery with a covered cab, those rays can still reach you through the windshield and windows. Frequently apply sunscreen that’s at least 30 SPF — the higher the better — to any exposed skin and consider wearing hats and long-sleeve shirts.
Protect Your Vision
The summer sun also contributes to increased sun glare when outside. Find yourself a quality pair of polarized sunglasses that can keep the sun out of your eyes. Wearing polarized sunglasses can help you to avoid eye fatigue and clearly see what you’re doing while operating equipment.
Watch What You Eat
Try to avoid heavy, protein-rich meals before or during rigorous summer work. Digesting such food requires your body to work harder, which adds to your exertion while operating equipment in the heat. Instead, try to have lighter meals and snacks throughout the day that include leafy greens, fresh fruit, and nuts which can restore electrolytes.
Prepare for Extreme Weather
With summer comes thunderstorms, flooding, heat waves, and hurricanes. Be ready for whatever comes your way by downloading a weather app and turning on its notifications. Store emergency supplies in the cab of tractors and other heavy equipment in case you get stuck in the worst of it.
Look for Signs of Heat Exhaustion
Watch for signs that you have dangerously overheated while working outdoors. Keep an eye out for the following symptoms, since heat exhaustion can quickly and dangerously turn into a heat stroke.
- Signs of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, a rapid pulse, flushed skin, weakness and fatigue, dizziness, goosebumps, muscle cramps, and/or headaches.
- If you or a coworker show signs of heat exhaustion, immediately stop work, get out of the heat, and find ways to hydrate and cool down.
- Signs of heat stroke include a lack of sweating, chills, a racing pulse, rapid breathing, high body temperature, nausea or vomiting, mental confusion, and/or slurred speech.
- If you or a coworker show signs of heat stroke, immediately seek emergency medical attention.
We hope these tips can help you keep comfortable and safe while working outside during summertime. And if you’re looking for your next piece of heavy equipment, be sure to check out the nationwide selection at EquipmentTrader.com.
About the Author
Ethan is a Content Curator for Trader Interactive, serving the commercial brands Commercial Truck Trader, Commercial Web Services, and Equipment Trader. Ethan believes in using accessible language to elevate conversations about industry topics relevant to commercial dealers and their buyers.