Staying cool in hot environments

Jon Lawson

When working in any industry that has close contact with fire or explosions – firefighters, lab scientists, or more appropriately, engineers – precautions should be taken at every stage. Here is the Alsico guide to staying safe.

The main benefits of FR clothing

The first rule of fire-retardant or flame-retardant (FR) clothes are garments that protect the wearer from acquiring burns and severe injuries when working with the element. FR clothing is the most trusted and used material, internationally, for workers in the above industries due to their indisputable benefits.

Most importantly, fabrics and components used to create fire-retardant clothing are carefully chosen as they prevent clothing from melting into the wearer’s skin. The thermal insulation within FR clothing protects the flames from breaking open the garments and exposing the skin to any threats, reducing burn injuries and increasing the chances of survival.

Lastly, when wearing FR clothing, the expectation is for it to not catch fire but in the rare chance it does, the material is self-extinguishing to stop the fire from burning and spreading any further.

Now, you’re protected against fire, but how do you avoid heat exhaustion? For anyone working in flammable surroundings, the risk of heat exhaustion is high if you’re not carrying out the correct precautions, especially as FR clothing traps heat due to the thermal insulation layer. Follow these steps to avoid overheating.

Stay aware. If it’s common for your workforce to keep their FR clothing on for the entire day, even when on a break, ensure they’re not overheating in their natural element. Certain weathers may trick your body into believing it’s cooler than it is, making it difficult for your body to regulate its temperature. Understand your surroundings and keep an eye on humidity levels. By doing this, you’ll be able to avoid having a run in with the consequences of not regulating your temperature correctly.

Understand the symptoms. There are 7 symptoms that are early warning signs that you may be headed towards a case of heat exhaustion. These include; disorientation, illness, fainting, light-headedness, heat rash, heat cramps, and the inability to feel parched. If you notice any of these, be sure to seek medical treatment quickly to help your body recover.

Finally, take it easy. Overexertion when working in hot environments or throughout the summer months is one of the main causes of heat stress. Often, it’s not until we’ve pushed our body to the limit that we realise what we’ve done. Look after yourself, remind yourself to take regular breaks, and stay hydrated. These steps should help you out when your body is already working overtime to keep you cool.


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