Recently, we took part in a ride-a-long with a service technician who works on pool heaters. It was a warm and humid morning that reached temperatures in the upper 90s by the late afternoon.
Being outside is wonderful and it’s an inherent part about working a service route. That said, in general, the work is done underneath a hot summer sun.
A couple of times the homeowners were nice enough to offer a cool drink and a shaded area to sit in. Once we were on the roof of an apartment building that seemed to shimmer in the afternoon heat.
This got us thinking, what are some tricks for keeping cool that might not be obvious to guys who have worked this trade for years.
Here, we’ve rounded up five tips that you should consider using to keep cool while out on job.
To start lets get a couple of the more obvious ones out of the way:
Wear large brim hats like a Panama hat. A good amount of blood flows through your face and head. Keeping your face cool helps keep the rest of your body cooler.
Plan the jobs that you know will require more strenuous labor for early in the morning when it’s not quite as warm out.
Of course, drink plenty of water and avoid carbonated drinks as those tend to make you thirstier and cause cramps.
Generally, by the time you realize that you’re thirsty, you’re already well on your way to dehydration. It’s better to combat that by drinking water consistently.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommends 1 cup of water for every 15 – 20 minutes of work. That might not be sustainable for you but it is good to stop and drink some liquids as often as possible.
1. Dress Cool.
We highly recommend that those who work in the sun purchase clothing that is loose-weave and cotton. It allows the body room to breathe while protecting your skin from the sun.
Also, try to wear lighter colors. Darker colors tend to absorb the heat more and hold it in. Light colors tend to reflect more heat.
2. Eat cool.
On the job many guys might stop by a McDonald’s or the taco stand as they’re out and about. To refresh yourself, try eating meals that don’t require heat to enjoy.
Cold soups like gespacho, watermelon (which contains 92% water), and salads if you’re so inclined are good cool meals. Sandwiches and apples are good as well.
This isn’t an exhortation to eat healthier, but junk food will provide empty calories that you’re body has to work harder to burn through causing more heat in your body. You don’t want to make yourself hotter while out in the sun.
3. Suit up.
This one we heard about from a guy who used to wear costumes in the summer at amusement parks. Those of you who fish might find this an easy fix.
Take a fishing vest and fill the pockets with coldpaks. Wearing this during the hotter parts of the day will help keep you cooler as you work.
Plus, it leaves room for your arms to move freely about. We recommend removing the vest once you don’t feel the coldpaks anymore, otherwise you’re just carrying around extra weight with no benefit.
You could also try placing cool, damp cloth on your neck to help spread the cold.
4. Take breaks.
Take regular 5 minute breaks. If you’re moving between jobs fairly quickly you get the sanctuary of your air conditioned truck.
However, on those days when you have to spend a significant period of time at one or two locations, remember to take a break every so often.
We’ve read different reports on this, but the CDC recommends finding an area with air conditioning.
That said, other places have reported that the hot/cold/hot transition actually makes working in the heat worse. The point here is to stop working for a moment and let your body cool itself down without standing in direct sunlight.
If the AC isn't available search for some kind of shade. Getting into a slightly cooler area is the important part here. It allows you a moment to rest your body and hydrate.
5. Know your limits.
Understandably you don’t want to tick off customers who expect you to show up and take care of their pools. However, if you start feeling sick or dehydrated you need to stop working.
It’s not worth it to make yourself even sicker.
If you happen to be working a job with another service tech, or even another contractor, keep an eye on each other. If someone appears to be flushed, fatigued, excessively sweating, confused get them to a cool place and get them drinking water.
Keep cool and safe out there.