29 May Standing Up for Sitting Down
The temperatures are hitting the thirties. Your kid is heading out the door to their job working outdoors. Are you telling them what they already know and possibly not what they need to know?
We pass them all the time through the summer months. Young workers doing gardening work, construction, house painting and road work. Many parents send them off to work comforted in knowing that they have full water bottles and instructions to stay hydrated. Except there’s possibly one wrinkle here.
They might not be able to get to that water bottle when they’ve been on a roof for three straight hours and only had arms to carry supplies up the ladder. In strenuous work in hot weather one should re-hydrate every 15-20 minutes whether one is thirsty or not. The same goes for regular breaks to allow our bodies the time to cool down.
All that said, parents and others responsible for young workers may be offering good advice, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. We need to ask them other very important questions. And listen to what they tell us.
Do they know the symptoms of heat stress? These include weakness, dizziness, nausea, muscle cramps and other symptoms.
Do their employers allow them to take breaks?
Here’s the big one: Are they comfortable asking their employers to take breaks? Some young workers who may be afraid to lose their jobs because they need money for tuition or otherwise are very reluctant to rock the boat. If they admit to not wanting to ask, we have to remind them that it is their right to have safe work conditions and that includes regular breaks. They need to know that no job is worth the consequences of heat stroke, whether it be fainting and falling off a ladder or other injury or illness directly or indirectly caused by heat stress.
Talk to them. Even role play with them on how they can bring the subject up with their boss and have a productive conversation. Your support and understanding can make all the difference and give them life skills that will serve them well in to the future.