Advertisement
  1. Health

How to stay safe while working in Florida's heat and humidity

Foreman Bonifacio Rodriguez strips a row of shingles. Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019 in Pinellas Park. ANGELIQUE HERRING | Times
Published Aug. 15

The old cliche is true: It's not the heat, it's the humidity.

Staying safe while doing strenuous activity in Florida's August takes some knowledge. We talked to Patrick Mularoni, the medical director of sports medicine for Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital, about the roofers, beach bar singers, pizza bakers and glass artists who work in hot jobs.

RELATED: These are Tampa Bay's hottest jobs — literally

When you get too hot, your body tries to lower your temperature by releasing sweat, which causes a cooling effect when it evaporates off the skin. That evaporation is the key to keeping cool.

"The higher the humidity is, the more difficult it is for the water to evaporate off your body," Mularoni said. In a drier climate, it evaporates quickly.

Adults who work outside in steamy Florida can learn from student athletes. Mularoni coaches youth sports teams and he tells his players their urine should be almost clear by the time they go to bed at night. That tells them they've been drinking enough water.

"If it's the color of apple juice or darker, you need to drink more water because you are becoming dehydrated," Mularoni said.

And some people are "salty sweaters," he said, meaning they have more salt in their perspiration and should add sports drinks with electrolytes into the mix. Look for white rings on the sweat stains of T-shirts or hat rims. If you're a salty sweater, drink one sports drink about an hour into a sweaty session, in addition to the water you should be gulping every 15 minutes.

Hydration has come to the forefront of concern in medicine, Mularoni said, and it is one of the staples of pre-season training.

He tells athletes to drink 16 ounces of water at least an hour before training so they start off adequately hydrated. Then take two gulps of water every 15 minutes, about four ounces.

Your goal should be to drink before you are thirsty.

Coaches also spend time getting athletes "climatized" to our intense heat, especially football players. They don't practice in full helmet and pads until they've trained for at least a week in the heat.

That's why he isn't surprised that people like roofers and pizza bakers can keep at it year after year. They've been climatized.

Adults often add alcohol or caffeine to the mix, both of which can make you dehydrated because they increase urine output. If you are drinking them, you need to up your water intake as well, he said.

He has noticed that people who work outside, such as commercial fishermen, tend to choose salty foods, probably because their body is craving the electrolytes they lose from sweating.

"Most people who work outside become good about that. They learn to not only drink appropriately but eat appropriately," Mularoni said. "I'm not saying I recommend eating salty foods. But people who work outside a long time tend to eat saltier foods and drink more water."

Contact Sharon Kennedy Wynne at swynne@tampabay.com. Follow @SharonKWn.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Dr. Paul McRae was the first black chief of staff at Bayfront Medical Center in St. Petersburg. Dr. McRae died on September 13, 2019. He was photographed here in the Tampa Bay Times photo studio for the 2008 Dr. Carter G Woodson Museum's "Legends Honorees" gala. BOYZELL HOSEY  |  BOYZELL HOSEY  |  Times
    ‘His extraordinary example paved the way for so many others.’
  2. Michael Jenkins spent seven days at North Tampa Behavioral Health last July. Since then, he says his three children have been afraid he’ll leave and not come home. JOHN PENDYGRAFT   |   Times
    The patients have no choice, and the hospital is making millions.
  3. Samantha Perez takes a call for someone in need of counseling at the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay earlier this year. The center handles calls dealing with suicide, sexual assault, homelessness and other traumatic situations. They also do outreach and counseling, and operate Transcare, an ambulance service. JONES, OCTAVIO  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Florida’s mental health care system saves lives.
  4. The Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County identified a positive case of hepatitis A in a food service worker at Hamburger Mary's in Ybor City on Oct. 22, 2018. [JOSH FIALLO | Times] JOSH FIALLO | TIMES  |  JOSH FIALLO | Times
    Slightly more than 200,000 people have been vaccinated this year — a huge jump from the 49,324 people vaccinated in all of 2018.
  5. FILE - In this Feb. 20, 2014, file photo, a patron exhales vapor from an e-cigarette at a store in New York. Under the Trump administration, former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb kicked off his tenure in 2017 with the goal of making cigarettes less addictive by drastically cutting nicotine levels. He also rebooted the agency’s effort to ban menthol flavoring in cigarettes. But those efforts have been largely eclipsed by the need to respond to an unexpected explosion in e-cigarette use by teens. AP
    Hundreds of people nationwide have come down with lung illness related to vaping.
  6. This May 2018, photo provided by Joseph Jenkins shows his son, Jay, in the emergency room of the Lexington Medical Center in Lexington, S.C. Jay Jenkins suffered acute respiratory failure and drifted into a coma, according to his medical records, after he says he vaped a product labeled as a smokable form of the cannabis extract CBD. Lab testing commissioned as part of an Associated Press investigation into CBD vapes showed the cartridge that Jenkins says he puffed contained a synthetic marijuana compound blamed for at least 11 deaths in Europe. JOSEPH JENKINS  |  AP
    The vapor that Jenkins inhaled didn’t relax him. After two puffs, he ended up in a coma.
  7. H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute is the centerpiece of Project Arthur, an 800-acre corporate park that could include up 24 million square feet of office and industrial space on nearly 7,000 acres of what is now ranch land, but targeted for development in central Pasco. Times
    The H. Lee Moffitt facility is the centerpiece of an economic development effort in a proposed 800-acre corporate park.
  8. Taylor Bland-Ball, 22, posted this photo and open letter to Judge Thomas Palermo to her Instagram account on September 10, the day after she lost custody of her 4-year-old son Noah McAdams. The boy's parents wanted to treat his leukemia with natural health care remedies instead of chemotherapy. [Instagram] ANASTASIA DAWSON  |  Instagram
    The couple refused chemotherapy for their son, instead seeking alternative treatments including dietary plans, alkaline water and THC and CBD oil treatments
  9. Sharon Hayes, the new chief executive officer at Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, says she will draw on her roots in nursing as she engineers a turnaround for the hospital. SCOTT KEELER  |   Times
    The city’s largest hospital has suffered setbacks under a corporate owner, but a new leader says it’s time for an infusion of “love and attention.”
  10. An architect's rendering shows part of a planned research center and hospital on N McKinley Drive in Tampa for the Moffitt Cancer Center. During the 2020 legislative session in Tallahassee, the center will seek an increased share of Florida's cigarette tax to finance the McKinley Drive project and other improvements. Moffitt officials said Thursday that the increase initially would finance $205 million, to be paired with $332 million they have already allocated for the project. Moffitt Cancer Center
    Florida lawmakers are the key to unlocking the money, which would pay for more hospital beds and research space.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement