Beat the Heat

July 11, 2022

Adam Tatum brings crucial summertime safety advice for operators.

Welcome to the summertime! This is the busiest time of the year for our industry. We do the most cars between June and September as people start traveling and taking those much-needed vacations. This is going to wear out your team much faster in the environment that is Summer, the heat. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), from 2004 to 2018, an average of 702 heat-related deaths (415 with heat as the underlying cause and 287 as a contributing cause) occurred in the United States annually. Below we will discuss some ways to keep your team safe and energized in the shops.

Stay Hydrated

This should be a given, as most people will grab something to drink when it's hot outside. However, what they are grabbing may not be the answer. Sodas are not going to keep you hydrated and your body moving. Do not wait until you are thirsty!

Drink water throughout the day to prevent dehydration or over exhaustion. Another alternative is all-natural juice without added sugar not only provides hydration, but it also has important nutrients to keep you active and nourished in hot weather. Vitamin C is just one of them. Sugar is not your friend in the heat. Suggestion for operators is to go buy some 5-gallon water coolers and order Gatorade mix from Amazon. They make one bucket a day and fill up water bottles. Your crew will stay hydrated and thank you for the drinks.

Air Flow

In the heat of summer, your crew will always try to find a way to get into you are air conditioned. This may not always be a good thing as we work in a shop environment. This all means that we may be tracking in dirt and grease into our lobbies. All that does not lead to the best customer experience, right? So, there is a way to keep your guy’s cooler without having them break away from service and increasing customer wait times.  Bring in fans for the bay areas. These can be installed and look profession and will move hot air out of the bays, keeping your team a tad cooler.  You have a few good options for this. There are nice, big fans for lower bay from Uline. These push a lot of air around and are a little expensive, but well worth it. The upper bay has more options. One good on that I have found is a smaller, circular fan that can be mounted on the walls. They are about 20-26 inches across and when turned on, they do not interfere with changing the oil on the cars but will keep the technicians a little happier. 

Watch for Warning Signs

As the weather gets warmer, it is important to know the difference between heat stroke and heat exhaustion.

Heat exhaustion occurs when the body loses excess amounts of water and salt, typically from sweating. On the other hand, heat stroke is a serious medical emergency that occurs when your body is unable to control its internal temperature.

Knowing the signs and symptoms of these two conditions could save your life or that of a co-worker.

Both heat stroke and heat exhaustion are caused by your body’s inability to cool itself. Sweat is your body’s natural tool for cooling you down. If you over-exercise or work strenuously in hot weather or a heated room, your body may have difficulty producing enough sweat to keep you cool. You can tell that you are suffering from heat exhaustion when you have symptoms such as general weakness, heavier sweating, weak pulse, clammy skin, and lightheadedness.

Other causes of heat exhaustion and heat stroke include:

  • dehydration
  • wearing heavier, tight clothing
  • consuming alcohol

If you are experiencing heat exhaustion for an extended period of time, it can lead to heat stroke. Heat stroke can come on quickly if it is extremely hot or you’re overexerting yourself. That is why it is important to begin treatment at the first signs of heat exhaustion.  If you feel any of those symptoms, find a cool place and sit down. Drink water and stay hydrated. If you cannot get your temperature down, seek medical attention.

I know that each of you may have your own plans in place to tackle the summer heat. Some other good ones are to add a body or two to the roster to lower the time that your team is working in a day. You could also set up cooling areas for the crew that are away from the customers. At the end of the day, look for ways to keep your team safe this Summer that you can add to your recruiting plans.

Millicent Garland
Photo 44934840 © Wayne Mckown |
Lavana Howard, vanna d. photography