Summer is approaching rapidly. Temperatures on your farm will be getting very hot soon, and it’s crucial that you take the steps necessary to help your farmworkers avoid heat-related illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fatalities from heat-related illness are 20 times higher among farmworkers than the rest of the civilian workforce.
There are several reasons why the heat is particularly intense on farms:
This creates a perfect storm of conditions, placing your farmworkers at an elevated risk of heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to minimize these risks.
Protective clothing is essential when you work on a farm. Long-sleeved shirts, pants, boots, and other attire will protect against ticks, poisonous vegetation, and the sun’s harmful UV rays. However, not all protective clothing is ideally suited to help release heat. Make sure your farmworkers understand that light-colored, loose-fitting, breathable clothing made from materials such as cotton or linen will help them shed heat more effectively.
Proper hydration is critical on a hot day. Once the outside temperature reaches 95°F, evaporation of sweat is the only way your body can effectively cool itself. As a result, your farmworkers will often sweat profusely on scorching days. If they don’t consume enough water, the risk of dehydration will become much higher.
The CDC recommends drinking one cup of water every 15-20 minutes when performing moderate activity. However, this amount will likely be insufficient to prevent dehydration on a very hot day. Make sure you have enough cool, refreshing water on hand to allow your farmworkers to stay properly hydrated.
In addition, remind your workers that the following beverages will increase the risk of dehydration:
It’s often challenging to find reprieve from the hot sun when working on a farm. Make sure you create some shady locations for your workers. This can be a shade tent, outbuilding, or any other structure you can erect on your farm.
Encourage your workers to take frequent breaks under these shade structures when the heat reaches intense levels. Create a space in the shade for them to eat meals as well.
The most demanding tasks should be avoided during the peak heat of the day. Instead, schedule these tasks for early morning or evening when temperatures are a little more moderate.
One of the best ways to avoid medical emergencies such as heatstroke is for your workers to be able to identify the warning signs. Typically, less severe forms of heat-related illness, such as heat cramps or heat exhaustion, will precede heatstroke. Make sure your farmworkers know how to identify the symptoms of all three conditions, as well as the steps to take in order to combat these issues.
The steps discussed above are all critical to implement on your farm to protect your employees during the hot summer weather. However, these items will often not be enough to prevent the development of heat-related illness. In many instances, the most effective solution will be to provide cooler, more comfortable air for your farmworkers. Portacool can help you make sure your employees stay cool, safe, and comfortable.
We’ve been the industry leader in evaporative cooling technology since 1990. Our Cyclone™ series contains a variety of models that are ideally suited to provide the cooling you need in a farming and agricultural setting. Use our online tool to find the right Portacool evaporative cooler for your farm.
All of our evaporative media is made by our subsidiary company, Kuul, ensuring it meets the exact performance requirements of our evaporative coolers. We proudly manufacture all Portacool products at our facility in Center, Texas, and Kuul makes the only evaporative media produced in the United States.