Stanford University

Heat Illness Prevention

Handling Hot Weather – Workplace Tips

During periods of hotter weather, basic tips for beating the heat at work include:

  • Hydration: Drink plenty of water, at least four (4) cups (32 ounces) a day.  Avoid caffeine and alcohol as they contribute to dehydration. Supervisors should remind workers to be drinking water throughout the day.
  • Clothing: Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing to keep your body cool while keeping with existing workplace dress code, including required personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Meals: Avoid eating heavy, hot, or hard-to-digest foods.  Light, cool, and easy-to-digest foods include fruit or salads.
  • Shade: Minimize direct exposure to the sun.  Use window shades/ curtains, outdoor portable shade tents, etc.
  • Fans: Use electric fans to provide cooling when the air temperature is below 95°F (except in laboratory environments, as it disrupts the ventilation system).
  • Stay Informed: Check the weather forecasts to plan appropriate attire, meals, and other ways to stay cooler for the upcoming workday.

Work Operation Pre-planning: 

Managers should prepare for extreme heat events by evaluating work operations and connecting with staff, human resources, and main stakeholders to pre-plan possible alternative work arrangements.  Alternative work arrangements can include but are not limited to:

  • Avoid use of fans in laboratory environments, as it disrupts the ventilation system and contributes to the buildup of excess heat
  • Adjusting service loads or rescheduling work to minimize physical exertion during the hottest times of day
  • Relocating to cooler work locations nearby
  • Allowing remote work/ telecommuting where beneficial
For outdoor work–  As outdoor work carries added risk of heat stress hazards, Supervisors are required to take specific measures to prevent heat illness amongst their staff. Refer to the Outdoor Heat Illness Prevention guide for detailed instructions.

Heat and Your Health

During periods of extreme heat, factors that can increase one’s risk for heat stress/ illness.  include:

  • Being outdoors for prolonged periods
  • Strenuous activity
  • Pregnancy or other health conditions that affect the body’s ability to regulate temperature
  • Being under the influence of drugs/alcohol

Employees with certain medical conditions should check with their personal physician to get a recommendation related to working during a heatwave

Stay aware of early signs and symptoms of heat illness including: 

  • Dehydration
  • Headache
  • Muscle cramps
  • Unusual fatigue

If any of these early signs/ symptoms occur, break from current activities to rest, hydrate, and cool down.  If symptoms do not subside within 30-60 minutes, seek prompt medical attention or call 911.

Any employee who is evaluated for possible heat illness must follow-up with the Stanford University Occupational Health Center (650-725-5308) to be medically cleared before returning to work.

 


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