By Doug Carter, Rankin County Extension Agent
Summer is here. As you work and play outside, please be cautious and smart about how you handle this hot and humid Mississippi weather.
Please try to stay hydrated. There is not a set number for the proper amount of fluid to drink to stay hydrated. It is all individual to each person, and greatly depends on how much you normally sweat, your physical condition, if you are used to outside summer activities, and how strenuous the current activity you are currently engaged in. Urine color is a good indicator. Clear if hydrated and dark yellow if dehydrated. Loss of 2% or more of body weight after the activity could mean you are dehydrated.
While water is excellent, if you are working at a strenuous task and sweating for over an hour at a time, sports drinks or small snacks will help replace the needed electrolytes. Sodium and carbohydrates will be needed to keep energy levels up. So have a cooler with you at all times, with what you need in it.
Consider using tailgate tents for shade, when possible, for stationary work in an outside area. Adjust work schedules when possible. It is best to start earlier in the mornings and try to accomplish the most intensive effort tasks first.
Try to avoid doing strenuous jobs from around noon until 3:30 p.m. or during the hottest hours of the day.
Gradually increase workload and allow more frequent breaks for new workers or workers who have been on vacation or out of the heat for several days. A body needs time to acclimate to higher temps and other environmental changes. It usually takes 10 to 14 days of heat exposure with the work you are performing to reduce the risk for heat injury and become used to the heat.
Source: MSU Dawg Tracks/Safety Newsletter/July 2021