What In the Blazes Is Heat Training and Why Does It Matter?
Few people will ever work in spaces as hot as attics in July, where the highest recorded temperatures hit over 180°. Yet, insulation and spray foam contractors work in these spaces wearing hooded suits making them sweat even more. That much heat requires some very cool and innovative ways to keep your crews safe. From heat acclimation training and live electrolyte drinks, to cooling vests, IDI is doing our best to help you train your team on new ways to deal with an old challenge.
Climbing around sweltering hot attics severely taxes the human body. For new team members, it’s even worse. This is where acclimation training helps your people transition.
Acclimation training gradually increases exposure times in hot environmental conditions over a period, maybe a week or so. New workers will need even more time. Thirty minutes to an hour may be all they can do the first morning and then again in the afternoon. By the end of the first week, they may be able to do 1-2 hours at a time or longer. After a couple of weeks, they should be acclimated as well as can be expected for really hot areas.
The main thing is your team understanding the signs of heat-related illness. Everyone should be trained on symptoms and courses of action for:
- Heat Stroke
- Heat Exhaustion
- Heat Cramps
- Heat Rash
The CDC has a great guidance flyer, both in English and Spanish that can be used during training. It’s also a good idea to laminate them and hang them in your rig or ad to your hazard communication binder.
The Big Deal
Most people don’t realize how BIG loss of fluid and electrolytes can be. It may be the most underestimated danger to those working in the insulation industry, especially for spray foam installers and insulation removal contractors, who spend multiple hours in attics, during the hottest part of the day. In a hot attic, your body quickly loses large amounts of fluids and electrolytes. When electrolytes are lost, electrical impulses to the heart can be interrupted and can lead to heart failure. They are vital to controlling muscles and nerve function. Without electrolytes, the body can’t regulate fluids and can actually die if drinking water dilutes your body’s electrolytes too far. (I had a friend go into a coma from this.) Critical electrolytes include sodium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, sodium, and bicarbonates.
So, what’s a good solution? Health studies and the CDC concluded that a major part of staying healthy in the heat means avoiding alcohol and sugary drinks. They also warn to avoid caffeine and diuretics. Unfortunately, what many of us reach for, are energy or sports drinks with loads of both, which leads to big crashes requiring more sugar and caffeine to feel sort of normal again. Choosing Pedialyte or sugar-free sports drinks is better, but not by a lot. The truth, most of our crew should feel amazing. They are doing hot yoga every day. However, chasing a 4-6 hour workout with energy drinks and a burger can be very hard on your system.
When we buy drinks containing electrolytes, most aren’t complex, alive, or active. Normally they’re trace minerals or something called spatial electrolytes. In other words, your body needs to find them and combine them in order to use them. And, many of these sports and energy drinks have 25-65 grams of sugar and 1-2 cups of coffee worth of caffeine. Imagine the effects of drinking 2-5 per day over 10 years.
So that better solution… Most people like lemon or cucumber water. Well, cucumbers are high in electrolytes like potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, and sodium. Celery juice may be the ultimate electrolyte source. Celery Juice contains sodium cluster salts that are complete living electrolytes. Even sea salt doesn’t have the restorative and repair benefits of cluster salts. Who knew?
We’re not proposing giving up burgers for wheatgrass, but with an easy-to-make drink that’s an electrolyte powerhouse, wouldn’t it be worth trying? Even once a day or once a week? Check out our video on making electrolyte drinks. Each with great electrolytes. You can add salt, stevia, honey, powder beverage, or even sugar, but our test panel liked them without adding anything. Either way, your body will be much better off. Then if you still want the coffee or energy drinks, go for it.
It wouldn’t be right talking about summer, without talking about cooling vests. Ask anyone that has one and you will find they love them! Cooling vests are a great way to keep core temperature down. Imagine you’re in the attic for half an hour of hot yoga (also known as vacuuming out insulation). Then, you go out and grab a cooling vest from the cooler, and suddenly feel like you jumped into a Montana stream. Talk about making the unbearable, so much better.
Well, IDI got Bullard to run a special this summer and we are having a contest for companies having Heat-Related Injury Trainings. So, if you’ve read this far and plan on having a Heat-Related Safety Training, we’ve already made a sign-in sheet you can use and keep on file. And as a bonus, if you send pictures of your safety training to IDI, we will enter your company into a drawing for a new IDI cooler or Bullard Cooling Vest. All entries must be received by 8/1/21 to be entered in the drawing. Winners will be announced in the IDI Safety September Newsletter.
Thank you again for your partnership with IDI. We hope this information helps you and your crews stay safe this summer. For more information on safety training, or even the products we carry, reach out to your local branch or at the corporate office where we look forward to earning your business every day.