Top Considerations For Mail Delivery In Extreme Heat
Top Considerations For Mail Delivery In Extreme Heat
In light of the recent tragic death of a USPS employee, we thought it was important to write about the heat and how to protect yourself while on your routes in scorching temperatures.
Employers are required by law to protect employees from hazards in the workplace, and that includes extreme heat. We recommend speaking with your supervisor so you can fully understand what you are to do during this dangerous weather condition.
In the meantime, there are a lot of things you should keep in mind while delivering mail in excessive heat that we’re going to cover today.
New Workers Must Take Extra Care
New workers who are not acclimatized to working in a hot, strenuous outdoor environment are more at risk of developing heat-related illnesses.
If you’re new to the job be sure to take frequent breaks to recover from the heat. Pay close attention to your body and the warning signs of heat illness. Until you are accustomed to working in such conditions, you are more likely to become ill from the heat.
Pay Attention To The Heat Index
The Heat Index takes into account both the temperature of the air and the humidity. The heat index will help you identify how the heat will feel to you physically. There is a misconception that a higher heat index doesn’t lead to a higher rate of heat illness, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Heat advisories and heat warnings exist for a reason so don’t ignore them.
Higher humidity means there is more moisture in the air, making it difficult for sweat to evaporate. This means your body is not being cooled as much as it normally would be. Always pay attention to the humidity when on a route.
It is also important to note that the heat index may be even hotter in direct sunlight. Keep in the shade as much as possible while on your route.
Making sure you drink plenty of water is paramount when it comes to working in excessive heat. Don’t drink only when you feel thirsty, drink small amounts of water on a regular basis throughout the day. Two to four glasses of cool water per hour is recommended.
Drinking soda, juice, or other sugary beverages will cause you to lose body fluid. Stick to water, and make sure it’s not too cold or it can cause stomach cramping.
Avoid Direct Sunlight
Because direct sunlight can make your body noticeably hotter, protecting yourself from the sun is extremely important. Try to keep to the shade whenever possible. Investing in some type of sun hat is a great way to keep the sun off your neck and face, and out of your eyes.
Sunburn is also a real threat when working outdoors, so be sure to use ample amounts of sunscreen.
Wear Appropriate Clothing
Short-sleeved shirts, shorts, and sun hats are all critical for keeping you cool while on your route. We have an entire section of summer Postal uniforms on our website to make them easy for you to find. These uniform options are lightly colored and lightweight to keep you as cool as possible.
If you’d like more details about the type of uniform items you should invest in for summer, we dedicated an entire post to it.Treat Early Signs Of Heat Illness
If you begin experiencing early signs of heat illness, give the symptoms immediate attention. By treating early symptoms with rest, shade, and water, you are more likely to avoid a medical emergency.
Some early symptoms to be aware of include cramping, headaches, and weakness. If you begin experiencing these types of symptoms, take action immediately. Even if you are near the end of your shift, don’t push yourself. Heat stroke is nothing to mess around with.
Find our breakdown of heat illness symptoms HERE.
Take Frequent Breaks
How often you take breaks will depend on the heat that day, but make sure you do take frequent ones in the shade or air conditioning.
Doing strenuous work in the heat can be extremely dangerous, so space out these activities when possible. Remember if you ever begin to develop symptoms of heat illness that you need to rest somewhere cool and drink some water. The mail isn’t worth your life.
Use Additional Cooling Products
There are other, more creative ways you can keep cool while on your route. MyPostalUniforms.com carries a variety of non-reimbursable summer accessories to help you during those hotter days. Neck cooling wraps and bandanas are two of our most popular products.
Cooling vests are another great option, and when all else fails a damp cloth can make a world of difference.
Be Aware Of Your Own Special Circumstances
While excessive heat is dangerous for everyone, your personal situation can have a huge impact on how you react to the heat.
Prescription and over-the-counter medications can make your body and skin more sensitive to sunlight. Medical conditions such as heart disease can also make you more vulnerable to the heat. Autoimmune diseases in particular are more likely to flare up due to heat, as well as asthma.
Pay attention to your body. Look up side effects of your medication and talk to a doctor about any medical conditions you have. You may want to talk to your supervisor about any concerns you may have.
Stay safe out there everyone, and don’t forget to stay cool by shopping for summer uniforms.