Working in HVAC: How to Stay Safe in the Summer

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Summer is a busy time for HVAC technicians. Because while everyone tries to beat the heat in the summertime, you’re right in the thick of it. You could be working residentially or commercially; the temperature won’t care, and neither will the HVAC systems pumping cool air. If you’re careless the heat could be dangerous, even fatal. Here are some tips to stay safe in the summer:

Stay Hydrated

When the temperature rises, the body tries to get rid of any excess fluids to maintain its inner temperature. One way it does this is through sweating. Sweating is a normal bodily function that helps you stay cool, but when you work in protective gear near systems that throw off heat, dehydration can sneak up on you. Drink water every 15 minutes or sports drinks with electrolytes. Avoid drinks with caffeine or sugar. And encourage your coworkers to do the same.

Wear Safe and Breathable Clothes

Safety regulations will require you to wear tough gloves, sturdy glasses, heavy-duty boots and, depending on the task at hand, a disposable mask. For the most part, the rest is up to you. Wear shirts made of breathable fabric like cotton or synthetic fibers. If possible, find UPF-rated clothing to keep the sun’s rays off your skin. Clothes that absorb sweat will quickly become your go-tos. And for those spots that aren’t covered up, don some sunscreen.

Practice Safety Procedures

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), employers should have an emergency plan in place to prevent heat-related illness. They are required to: keep water nearby, distribute the workload evenly over the day, schedule heavy work for cooler hours of the day, and rotate job functions to minimize heat exposure.

Cooler Work Environment

Your work environment may allow you to practice certain methods called engineering controls. This is just a fancy term for altering the state of your work environment; for example, if you work indoors you can turn on an air conditioner if one’s available; you could increase general ventilation, set up cooling fans, install reflective shields to redirect heat, or eliminate stream leaks. The idea here is to take matters into your own hands and make the environment work for you.

Know the Signs

Even with all the wearable protection and tips for hydration, you need to take precaution. Learn to recognize health warnings and signs of heat-related illness. Any of the following could be related to heat stroke, heat exhaustion, or heat cramps:

  • Confusion
  • Fainting
  • Seizures
  • Excessive sweating or red, hot, dry skin
  • Very high body temperature
  • Cool, moist skin
  • Heavy sweating
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Light headedness
  • Weakness
  • Thirst
  • Muscle spasms
  • Pain1

If you’d like a job that allows you to work with your hands and your brain, check out the HVAC-R Program at Charter College. We’ll teach you how to install, maintain, and repair essential temperature control equipment, while adhering to safety procedures and precautions that will keep you and coworkers out of harm’s way. You could earn your HVAC certificate from Charter College in as little as 10 months. Request more information today to learn about Charter College’s HVAC-R program and how you can get started today.