Vocations and work locations that require Year-Round Hydration

Posted in Cooling Equipment, Health, Hydration at Work, Lifestyle on February 15, 2023
Author: Marcelo Ciaramella

No matter what line of work you’re in or where your job takes place, hydration is of vital importance. Hydration is crucial for maintaining physical and mental health, and it's important to stay hydrated no matter what your vocation or location may be. From dry to humid climates and hot to freezing conditions, staying hydrated is essential for a variety of industries and professions, including:

Dry Climates: This type of climate is the most obvious. When the temperature increases and the air is dry, the environment is essentially working against you and trying to claim all your body’s moisture. Your sweat evaporates at a faster rate and moisture is lost through respiration as you are active. The higher the heat in the environment, the faster your body will lose water. Which is dangerous as this can lead to dehydration symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, and dizziness. This effect is even more drastic when there is intense activity involved. If it is “hot and dry”, it is essential to have a good source of potable water (preferably cool) and ideally, a type of electrolyte-replacement, like Sqwincher Freezer Pops or a Ready to Drink pouch. However, it is not only the hot weather. Even in colder temperatures, like in Winter months, parched air will dehydrate workers simply because of moisture diffusion. Dry air wants to take all the water it can from any source, including your body and clothing. You can learn more

Hot and Humid Climates: Hydration can also be challenging when there is too much moisture in the air. Hot and humid climates can lead to overheating and dehydration but for alternative reasons. Your body uses perspiration to dissipate heat. When sweat evaporates from the body, it helps cool your skin. If the surrounding air is very humid, your sweat doesn't evaporate at the intended rate. In fact, at 100% humidity, water will not evaporate at all. Essentially, air molecules are holding all the water they can and do not have the capacity to take any more in. When sweat doesn't evaporate into the air, it remains on the skin and does not perform its cooling function. So when the air is too humid, you may continue to sweat but you won't cool down, leading you to produce even more sweat. This ineffective cooling attempt will eventually lead to dehydration. It's important to replenish fluids frequently to avoid heat exhaustion and other related health problems.

Some industries work year round and face the weather in every season. However, the weather is not necessarily the only factor to be considered when thinking of hydration. Many vocations face very intense working environments where the high level of physical activity is matched by hot materials, equipment and exposure to the elements. Some of these vocations are:

Oil, Gas and Chemical Plants: Workers in these industries are at a higher risk of dehydration due to the physically demanding nature of their work. They also need to be careful to avoid dehydration as they may be working in high temperature environments or using equipment that generates heat. For safety reasons, you can not step foot in an oil rig or a gas plant without first layering up with protective equipment that is standard for workers in the field. In many cases, there is a high risk of flammable atmospheres that make fire-resistant coveralls a requirement, as well as hardhats, glasses, gloves, boots and other gear. All this gear makes for a very warm outfit . On a hot day, it does not take too much to overheat under all this equipment. Additionally all the activity in an Oil rig tends to involve stairs, hot piping and technical work that is very physically demanding. This combination of factors is a perfect recipe for dehydration. Aside from having hydrating fluids ready to drink bottles or cans, many workers in this field use cooling skull caps and towels under their gear.

Roofing: Roofing work is physically demanding and can lead to dehydration quickly, especially in hot and sunny conditions. Typically, roofers have no shade in their working areas and the materials they use emit radiant heat. Additionally, the surfaces they work on absorb short-wave solar radiation (the visible light) and it re-radiates as long-wave radiation (heat). It is for this reason that roofs become exponentially hotter than the ambient air temperature and create an intense layer of extra-hot air. To make matters worse, when working with roofing tar, workers have to heat it up to high temperatures before applying it.

Unfortunately, due to the danger of this field, workers have to be mindful of the working environment and tend to reduce the load they carry up and down ladders. Very often this leads to having to leave water bottles and hydration drinks in their work trucks instead of having them close at hand. Supervisors and safety managers know that hydrating regularly can help workers avoid heat exhaustion and keep their energy levels up, so many look for solutions by using hydration packs and cooling apparel to mitigate the heat and avoid dehydration.

Roadwork: In some of the colder regions, road work often comes to a halt in the Winter months. However, in warmer areas it can go on throughout the year. Roadwork often requires long hours in the sun, and workers are at a higher risk of dehydration due to the physically demanding nature of their work and the heat of the machinery and materials involved in the process. Keeping hydrated is essential for their health and safety. Asphalt pavers work with extremely hot material that is spread at a high temperature ( above 550°F or 300ºC). The heat released by this material creates a hot micro-climate around the machines used by workers performing their tasks. Combine this heat with the layers of safety apparel required and sunny conditions and you have very hot working conditions. Many road workers use cooling vests and hard-hats with neck shade that help avoid direct sunlight to reduce sunburn.

Foundries: Foundry workers are often exposed to high temperatures and heavy physical labor, which can lead to dehydration. Proper hydration is essential for maintaining their energy levels and avoiding heat exhaustion. In fact, a 2016 study analyzing heat stress in extreme work environments found that Iron Foundries sampled had ambient temperatures averaging 110ºF (43.4ºC). That is an excessively hot environment on its own, not considering the level of physical activity involved in this type of work. To heat things up, the heat hazards around molds and furnaces require workers to use a substantial amount of PPE at all times. High activity, warm layers and a high ambient temperature exponentially increases the potential for dehydration and heat stress.

Welding: When it comes to heat factors, welding ticks all the boxes. Welding work can be physically demanding and can generate a lot of heat from different sources. Additionally, confined working spaces and heavy PPE make the environmental heat very intense. Welders tend to work in very extreme conditions. They may find themselves in a tiny, cramped space, suspended on the side of a structure, or even deep under water. If cargo economy is important for roofers, it is even more limited for welders, so they almost never have a drink handy. Their opportunities to take a water break can often be few and far in between, so they need extra planning to prevent heat stress. Many welders use evaporative cooling vests and cooling bandanas to reduce heat stress but it is important for welders to stay hydrated to avoid heat exhaustion and other related health problems.

Commercial Kitchens: We have all heard the saying "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen", but this does not only refer to the pressure and stress chefs and cooks feel when they are working. In commercial kitchens, workers are often exposed to high temperatures, and the physically demanding nature of their work can lead to dehydration. Proper hydration is important for maintaining their energy levels and preventing heat exhaustion. Even though water is usually readily available to kitchen workers, hydration can still be overlooked. The most extreme examples of these conditions usually are seen in food trucks. They only have small electric fans to help them cool down and very few breaks during long shifts surrounded by hot cooking appliances like fryers, stoves and open-flame grills. Even if customers are constantly lining up to buy, cooks and chefs should consciously make time to replenish fluids and stay on top of hydration. Ready to drink electrolyte-replenishment drinks and freezer pops are great options to quickly quench their thirst and stay hydrated.

Police and Fire Fighters: Police officers, medical responders and firefighters are at a higher risk of dehydration due to the physically demanding nature of their work, as well as exposure to high temperatures in emergency situations. They usually spend countless hours on the move and do not always have access to water and refrigeration. During hot days, spending hours on the field and under the heat can significantly increase the danger of heat exhaustion and dehydration. Many fire and police departments make it a priority to provide their officers and first responders with Ready to drink options that they can take on the road. However, single-serve electrolyte packets can be a great option if they have water bottles or insulated travel mugs they carry. Proper hydration is essential for their health and safety.

In conclusion, staying hydrated is essential for maintaining physical and mental health, and it's important to stay hydrated no matter what your vocation or location may be. Keep a bottle of water or a sports drink like Gatorade or Sqwincher on hand to replenish electrolytes and carbohydrates, and stay hydrated year-round. Remember, [Hydration In The Workplace Is Not Just A Summer Issue], so stay hydrated no matter the time of the year. Your body will thank you for it!

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