If you’re a homeowner in Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland or eastern Pennsylvania, you know that the while we haven’t yet flipped the calendar to June, summer temperatures have arrived on the Eastern Seaboard. Spring maintenance is still in full swing for most homeowners, though, as cooler temps kept us all inside longer than we wished earlier this year. As you toil your weekend hours away beautifying your home, don’t forget that the sun and heat can wear you out faster than you might imagine.
Working Outside in Summer Heat: Overexposure
Summer weather conditions can do more than exhaust your energy. Overexposure to sun and heat can pose serious dangers to your health. The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration cautions against this overexposure, noting that summer conditions can “cause heat cramps and rashes. The most serious heat-related disorders are heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Symptoms include confusion; irrational behavior; loss of consciousness; hot, dry skin; and abnormally high body temperature.”
We know how hard it is to find time to complete home maintenance, and we know how difficult it can be to call it quits once you’ve begun a task; the urge cross it off of your to-do list is strong! But working in the summer heat comes with its own special challenges, and you must protect yourself. Read on for three summer safety tips to keep in mind so you can tackle that outdoor home maintenance to-do list safely.
Summer Safety Tip 1: Plan Strategically
Sit down with your home maintenance to-do list, and think carefully about the areas of your property that need the most attention. That shed that needs repainting the the back: when does it get the most direct sunlight? Choose another time of day to get working on it. The basement windows that are in disrepair: which ones need the most attention? Start with them early in the morning, and break until the early evening hours.
As these anecdotes illustrate, you can carefully plan so that you’re accomplishing items on your to-do list while avoiding peak daily temperatures and direct sunlight. This method requires a bit more planning and flexibility, but it will also make your home maintenance goals much more achievable, because you’ll be able to complete them more efficiently and safely.
Summer Safety Tip 2: Gear Up!
Once you’ve planned your approach, be sure to prepare for outdoor maintenance like you would any other demanding physical activity. Hydrate well beforehand and have plenty of fluids at the ready to make sure your body is able to complete the tasks at hand. Avoid particularly heavy foods before working outdoors (including the night before), and get good rest.
Dressing for the heat is important, too. You want to stay covered, but not so covered that you risk overheating. Consider moisture-wicking fabrics (the kind you find in sports apparel shops), but if that’s not an option, go for breathable fabric–cotton is your best friend.
Summer Safety Tip 3: Shield Yourself from Summer Sun
Sunscreen is a must when completing home improvements in summer weather. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun’s rays causes everything from premature skin aging to skin cancer, so it’s essential that you protect yourself. This reminder is so fundamental that it may seem silly to you that we’re even including it, but the fact remains that most Americans do not wear sunscreen! It’s true.
The US Environmental Protection Agency offers this helpful approach to determining the level of UV exposure you’re working with, and some tips on sun protection for each measure on the UV Index Scale:
“An easy way to tell how much UV exposure you are getting is to look for your shadow:
If your shadow is taller than you are (in the early morning and late afternoon), your UV exposure is likely to be lower.
If your shadow is shorter than you are (around midday), you are being exposed to higher levels of UV radiation. Seek shade and protect your skin and eyes.”
Wearing UV-resistant (polarized) sunglasses and a hat that covers your head and ears will also afford you a degree of protection from the sun’s rays (and a hat that provides some shade for your face, neck and back can help keep you cooler, too). But don’t fool yourself into thinking these measures alone will suffice! Slather on the sunscreen to safely complete your summer home maintenance tasks.
Now, you’re ready to tackle those summer home improvement tasks safely and successfully!