Avoid The Heat.

I’ve welded in all kinds of conditions, from the bitter freezing cold where the wind would cut you in half to the days where the temperature was over 100 degrees and the humidity in excess of 90% without the slightest breath of air stirring.  These extremes are dangerous working conditions for sure.  But if you ask me which one I prefer, I’d rather be cold because the welding will warm you up at least a little. But where I live in the South, we have two different coasts within 2 to 3 hours driving distance, and no matter which direction the wind blows, it seems humid year around. So, humidity is always a factor.  Always combined with humidity and any relatively warm temperature is the threat of severe heat exhaustion, or as some call it “heat stroke” and is very dangerous working conditions. This is a condition where the inner body temperature begins to rise, and the outer body has done all it can do to cool it, and eventually gives up trying.  Symptoms include lack of sweat, confusion, nausea, irritability, weakness and the list goes on. It’s something that creeps up on you while you are fine one moment, the next you are collapsed in a pile on the floor passed out. While I am not medical expert, I’ve witnessed this event several times in other people, and even experienced it myself. It is a life threatening event. Welding with covers, protective gear and a welding helmet all keep the heat building up inside and sweating just isn’t enough to keep the body cool.  While I certainly don’t recommend shucking off the protective gear to stay cool, there are devices that can be worn that help keep welders cool while doing their job. Some are rather expensive with forced cooling, and others are not much more than special fabric that is soaked in water to help exchange the heat. But the idea is to prevent even the possibility of heat exhaustion.  If you don’t have to do it, don’t.  That’s the obvious answer, but if you have to do it day in and day out, keep hydrated.  That’s the number one way to prevent heat exhaustion.  Don’t wait until you are thirsty, that’s about an hour too late.  You need to take in cool (not cold)  fluids (no alcohol or caffeine)  every 15-30 minutes or so, just to  stem the tide of sweat that your body is producing.  While the body is a high percentage of water, it doesn’t take much to make you  dry as a fresh pack of tennis balls.  Mentally ascertain your condition every time you stop to drink down a glass of water.  See if you can work through a couple of simple thoughts, and see if you think it makes sense.  Better yet, talk to someone so they can observe you.  Whatever you do, in the heat, you cannot be too careful.

 

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