Today is National Heat Awareness Day. If not already, auto glass technicians will soon repair and replace glass in the summer heat. It is 100% possible to avoid heat illness and stroke if you know what to look out for and what to avoid.
“The most important things when you’re working in the heat are staying hydrated. So drink plenty, either water, electrolyte drinks, things like that. Taking breaks, so resting periodically to make sure you’re not overexerting yourself,” says Kelly Graham, product manager and safety expert at Magid. Graham encourages auto glass technicians to take breaks in the shade when possible, and to use cooling gear, including cooling towels, bandannas and personal fans. “Any cooling gear is also going to help you keep your body cool and lower your risk of heat stroke.”
Magid has cooling gear that can be worn all day. “I definitely recommend keeping them on as long as [technicians are] hot,” Graham says. The company’s cooling towel remains cool for two hours, then can be dipped into water, wrung out, snapped “and it gets cool again.” The towel can be rewetted with a water bottle, from a hose or dipped into a bucket of water. “There’s a lot of things you can do to help prevent heat stroke,” she says. Graham suggests not drinking sugar-based drinks and eating healthy throughout the workday.
Aside from prevention, Graham reminds technicians of what to do in case of an emergency. If someone is acting sluggish or sweating profusely, they might be experiencing heat stroke. Graham says to call 911 as soon as possible. “Time is of the essence with heat stroke and heat illness,” she says. Get them water, move them to a shady area. “Try and cool their body down as quickly as possible,” Graham says. If possible, place the affected individual in a tub of cool water or on a tarp with ice. “You should immediately start working on cooling that person off.”
Beth Sutherland, Magid marketing communications manager, says getting the individual cool first is important, then transporting them. “What that means is that damage is happening at the cellular level and it has to be stopped or they’ll have organ damage, they may die, many terrible things can happen from it,” Sutherland says of heat stroke. Experts recommend placing the affected individual in water or ice in a tub or on a tarp with the sides pulled up. “You really need that full body immersion to stop that damage.” Their body temperature must be brought down below 102 degrees as soon as possible before they are removed from water or ice.
In 2019, Magid partnered with the Korey Stringer Institute, which had gathered research on heat stroke with athletes, and with MISSION to found the National Heat Safety Coalition. Graham says that the company’s involvement brought the industry world “and the everyday person” into the conversation of how to prevent heat illness on the job.