Much of the central US experienced significant periods of warm temperatures. In fact, May 2018 ranked as the warmest May on record in Ohio. NW Ohio has not escaped the heat as several days last week soared into the 90s.

Farm and town folks both enjoy working and being outdoors. However, hot temperatures with a high heat index can be a major health concern for both people and farm animals. Ed Lentz, Extension Educator in Hancock County, provides these tips for staying cool when temperatures soar.

Working in extreme heat for long periods of time can increase the risk of a heat stress injury such as heat exhaustion or heat stroke. These types of injuries can occur when the body cannot regulate its temperature and can become serious medical emergencies if precautions are not taken.

Individuals with pre-existing conditions, such as limited mobility, heart disease, and taking certain medications are at an even higher risk to a heat stress injury and should consult with their local health care provider before working for an extended period in extreme heat. Some precautions to consider working in the heat include:

When possible, strenuous work should be scheduled for the coolest time of day which is generally early morning.

Wear light-colored and lightweight clothing. Light colors reflect heat and sunlight and when combined with lightweight material will help the body maintain normal temperature.

Take multiple short breaks throughout the day. Breaks should be in a shaded area or controlled temperature environment.

Equipment or machines that give off additional heat during operations may add additional stress on hot days. Alternate these operations with tasks in cooler environments, such as shade or temperature controlled environments.

It is important to stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after strenuous activities. Allow farm animals access to fresh water at all times.

Drink cold fluids and avoid consuming alcoholic beverages. Cold fluids can help cool the body; alcoholic beverages may encourage dehydration.

Do not get too much sun. Avoid scheduling outdoor tasks in direct sunlight, such as the middle of the day.

Use sunscreen. Sunburn makes it more difficult to regulate and reduce body temperature.

Additional health information on working outdoors in extreme heat and other agricultural safety information may be found on Ohio State University’s Factsheet: Secondary Injury Prevention: Heat Stress, https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/AEX-981.4-10. For additional information, please contact the Putnam County Extension office at 419-523-6294, at scheckelhoff.11@osu.edu, or stop in at 1206 East Second Street in Ottawa. You can also find us on Facebook by searching for OSU Extension Putnam County.