Too Hot To Build in Boston? 5 Simple Ways to Stay Cool on the Job
There’s no doubt about it: Summer in Boston can sizzle. However, it’s not just the temperatures that are hot around downtown. The multitude of construction projects — from the Seaport to Back Bay, from Fenway to Roxbury and from massive in scope to individual kitchen remodels — has us all hopping, trying to keep schedules under control, and trying to stay cool, both literally and figuratively.
Summer is, of course, the best time, for both work and play. Days are longer, but the heat itself can be a drain on human and mechanical well being, and you sometimes have to work harder to stay comfortable.
Start early, Quit Early
Although it’s not always possible to compensate by adjusting work hours, one of the best ways to get a full day’s work done is to start earlier. Benefits range from beating the traffic to beating the heat, and that’s no small feat in downtown Boston. Start early in the day — after all, it gets light much earlier in the summer — and knock off when the sun reaches its zenith in the early afternoon. It’s a good practice for both the crew and the machinery.
Here are 5 additional tips: None of these are new idea but they are just as important as it is to prepare for winter’s ice and snow.
- Think hydration: Bodies need water to function at peak performance levels. Forego the fancy energy drinks and the sugary sodas. Keep buckets of cool, clear water available on the job. Drink it, of course, at every opportunity. But you can also use a wet bandana tied around the head or draped over your neck and shoulders. Wipe your face and arms with cool water each time you take a break.
- Take breaks, seek shade: Whether you’re working with concrete or working with structural steel, materials and equipment are hotter and harder to handle. Accidents occur when workers get tired. Combat fatigue and stay alert by scheduling regular break times more often when it’s hot. Provide sunshades, when appropriate, for mechanized equipment and for work areas. Refresh your body with liquids and light snacks; they are the fuel that will allow you to meet those construction deadlines.
- Dress properly: It may seem logical to shed clothing during the heat of the day, but it’s actually better to keep your body covered. Wear lighter colors, if possible, to reflect some of those rays. Even if it’s only a psychological boost, lighter colors and natural fabrics tend to help you feel cooler. Whether you wear a uniform or not, investigate new varieties of self-wicking fabrics. Initial cost may be higher, but the benefits in terms of comfort are immense. Wear a hat, use sunblock, and protect your body not only from the sunburn, but from the effects of wind and from insects.
- Change your diet: Eat a healthy breakfast to jump start your day, but then go easy on food as temperatures climb. It’s better to eat several smaller snacks throughout the workday than to load up on carbs and “energy food” that tend to slow you down. Fresh fruit will keep you going in a healthy way; lighter fare can help counteract that need to nap! As odd as it may sound, spicy food may also help you feel cooler! Hot salsa and chips, spicy curry or Jamaican jerk chicken can be a good choice for a summer lunch!
- Know the signs of heat exhaustion: Feeling faint, dizzy or disoriented is not normal. If your skin is dry, and you stop sweating, be suspicious. If you recognize subtle signs in yourself or a coworker, get help immediately. Every downtown construction site should have a shaded area; don’t hesitate to call for help. Heat stroke can be life threatening, and the disorientation and associated hazards of not paying attention to warning signs can be catastrophic.
And finally, if you need a break from the heat, we would love for you to stop by our air-conditioned showroom located right in the heart of downtown Boston! Stop in and say hi over a nice cold glass of ice water!