Every year around the country, summer temperatures reach record-breaking highs, while the construction industry toils on erecting buildings, constructing high-rises, and paving roads. And as the heat rises, so do the concerns about proper hydration for construction workers.
Construction is physically intensive work, which that in itself is taxing on the body. By the time you add heat in the high double digits or triple digits, add humidity, and the lack of rain—all of these add up to some serious health effects even on perfectly healthy employees. Everyone knows it’s important to stay hydrated, especially during the hot summer months and working long strenuous hours, but it bears repeating. And it is critical to educate the workers on the symptoms and about avoiding heat-related injuries.
Education starts with the warning signs, which for mild to moderate dehydration include thirst, dry sticky mouth, dark yellow urine, loss of elasticity in skin, sleepiness or tiredness, headache, dizziness or light-headedness, muscle weakness, and fatigue. Symptoms worsen with severe dehydration leading to extreme thirst, very dry mouth, lack of sweating, little urination, sunken eyes, shriveled and dry skin, low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, and fever. These indicators can be life threatening and need immediate medical attention. Employees should be encouraged to pass along complaints of any of these symptoms to management so proper attention can be given if dehydration, or worse a heat-related illness, occurs.
When you realize that you’ve become dehydrated, start replacing fluids immediately. In order to prevent dehydration, drink before, throughout the workday, and after to ensure you’re getting enough water. Sports drinks also are a good way to stay hydrated, replace lost electrolytes and minerals, and come in a variety of flavors. Avoid drinking coffee, tea, soda, or alcohol, which act as diuretics and dehydrate you further. Listen to your body, stay hydrated, and drink up before you get thirsty.