Tips for Outdoor Workers in Extreme Heat

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Extreme heat is the leading weather-related cause of death in the United States. Some workers are disproportionately impacted by this type of weather, including farmworkers and farmers, fishers, firefighters and construction workers. Since 2011, more than 400 workers have died due to environmental heat exposure, and thousands more are hospitalized every year. As heat waves become more intense and frequent, outdoor workers should adjust their activities based on weather forecasts to minimize risks.

Part of being #SummerReady means understanding extreme heat risks. If you are under an extreme heat warning and must be outside, the following tips will help protect you and your loved ones.

Stay Hydrated and Keep up with Your Electrolytes 

  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after working in the heat. Aim to consume at least one cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Avoid caffeinated and sugary beverages, as they can contribute to dehydration.
  • Do not skip meals to maintain healthy levels of sodium and electrolytes in your body during hot days. 
  • Although hydrating is important, keep in mind that drinking water does not cool inner body temperatures.

Dress Appropriately 

  • Wear lightweight, loose-fitting and light-colored clothing that covers exposed skin.
  • Use a wide-brimmed hat to shade your face, head and neck.

Take Frequent Breaks and Refine Work Schedules

  • When possible, plan outdoor work during cooler hours, such as early mornings or evenings.
  • Use rest breaks to cool down and allow the body to recover from heat stress.
  • Find shaded or air-conditioned areas for breaks. 
  • Avoid direct sunlight during the hottest parts of the day.
  • Avoid strenuous physical activity during peak heat hours, if possible.

Monitor Your Health

Be aware of early signs of heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion or heatstroke.

Heat exhaustion signs and symptoms include heavy sweating, cold, pale and clammy skin, muscle cramps, fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting and fainting. 

If you are experiencing these symptoms, it is recommended to: 

  • Go to an air-conditioned place and lie down. 
  • Loosen or remove clothing.
  • Put cool, wet cloths on your body or take a cool bath. 

Take sips of water. Get medical attention right away if you are throwing up, your symptoms get worse or your symptoms last longer than one hour. 

Heat stroke signs and symptoms include extremely high body temperature (above 103 degrees) indicated by an oral thermometer; red, hot, dry or damp skin; rapid, strong pulse; headache; dizziness; nausea; confusion; and unconsciousness. 

If you are experiencing these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately:

  • Call 9-1-1 or get to a hospital promptly. 
  • Move the person to a cooler place until medical help arrives. 
  • Help lower the person’s temperature with cool cloths or a cool bath.
  • Do not give the person anything to drink.

For more information on responding to a heat stroke, visit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Extreme Heat webpage

Communicate and Collaborate with Others

  • Stay in touch with supervisors and co-workers to monitor the latest updates and instructions.
  • Look out for each other and report any signs of heat-related distress among colleagues.
  • Encourage an open dialogue regarding heat safety concerns and potential improvements in workplace practices. Supervisors might monitor worker safety and remind workers to take breaks and hydrate on a set schedule.
  • Let friends or family know where you will be located to ensure safety if faced with a heat-related illness. 

Specific Tips for Farmworkers, Farmers, Construction Workers, Firefighters and Fisher Workers

Farmworkers and Farmers 

Farmworkers and farmers are especially vulnerable to extreme heat due to prolonged exposure in fields and open areas with limited shade. Due to this vulnerability, agriculture workers compared to other outdoor professions are 35 times more likely to die from extreme heat.  

  • Implement shaded rest areas and make them easily accessible. 
  • Use mechanized equipment to reduce physical labor when possible. 
  • Rotate tasks to reduce continuous exposure to direct sunlight. 
  • Educate workers on the signs of heat-related illnesses and proper hydration techniques. 

Construction Workers 

Construction workers often deal with both the heat and physical exertion from manual labor, making them 13 times more likely to die from extreme heat than other outdoor professions.

  • Adjust work schedules to start earlier in the day or later in the afternoon. 
  • Provide cooling stations on-site with fans, misters and shaded areas. 
  • Ensure all workers are trained in recognizing and responding to heat stress. 


Firefighters face unique challenges due to the heavy protective gear and the intense heat from fires

  • Ensure proper hydration by carrying water and electrolyte solutions in fire trucks.
  • Use cooling vests or other wearable cooling devices during and after fire suppression activities.
  • Monitor each other for signs of heat stress and take breaks in air-conditioned environments whenever possible

Fisher Workers 

Fisher workers often work in direct sunlight on open water, which can increase the risk of heat exposure.

  • Ensure access to shaded areas on boats or platforms for regular breaks.
  • Rotate tasks to minimize continuous exposure to the sun.
  • Encourage hydration by keeping ample supplies of water and electrolyte solutions on board.
  • Provide training on the signs of heat-related illnesses and emergency response procedures.

Remember, prioritizing safety and well-being is paramount during extreme heat conditions. Listen to official guidelines and recommendations from local authorities or your employer related to extreme heat safety to limit risks. 

Visit to learn more. Share this information to raise awareness and prevent heat-related incidents. 

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