This summer large portions of the country are experiencing high temperatures and humidity, with above average conditions expected through July and August. These heat spikes can be particularly dangerous for car wash employees and warrant measures to prevent heat stress and protect the individuals working your facility.
Why is Heat So Dangerous At the Car Wash?
Human bodies are surprisingly good at dissipating heat and maintaining a precisely balanced internal temperature. When an individual gets too hot, the body adjusts blood circulation to push more blood closer to the surface of the skin in order to divert heat from the internal organs and release it. At the same time, the body automatically releases water and dissolved chemicals from sweat glands, to pull away heat via evaporation.
However, extreme or prolonged heat exposure can easily overwhelm these mechanisms, causing internal temperatures to increase to dangerous levels even as the body dehydrates from sweating. This is doubly true for high-humidity heat waves or for work conducted in a high-moisture car wash tunnel, as the moisture in the air cancels out evaporation and stops the body from benefiting from sweat formation. The risk of heat exhaustion is also increased when employees are out in direct sunlight at the vacuum stations, in a car wash bay that is heating up due to natural sunlight, and when they are wearing dark-colored uniforms that absorb sunlight.
Heat exhaustion is marked by confusion, dizziness, headaches, nausea, fatigue, racing heartbeats, and even delirium—symptoms which are unacceptable in the high-risk car wash environment. Therefore, any signs of heat exhaustion must be treated with extreme urgency.
5 Steps Car Wash Managers Should Take
1) Keep an eye on the temperature. What qualifies as a heat wave will change in different parts of the country, but you’ll know it when you feel it. When temps get too high it’s important that you take steps to reduce heat exposure among your team—especially if your bay heats up due to sunlight and humidity.
2) Limit the amount of time your employees spend outside or in a hot car wash bay during a heatwave. This may mean shifts as short as 10 or 15 minutes with an available air-conditioned space for use when they don’t need to be outside.
3) Keep your employees drinking cold water in order to stay hydrated and replace the fluids they’re losing as they sweat. Remember that soft drinks, while they may provide some benefit, won’t be nearly as hydrating.
4) Have a short-sleeved, loose-fitting uniform option to allow airflow and keep your team cool.
5) Train employees to recognize the signs of heat exhaustion and encourage them to take a break, call for help, and get water if they have need.
The last thing you need is for your team to work themselves to a breaking point. Prepare ahead of time and be ready to face this year’s biggest heat waves safely and without incident.
Tommy Car Wash Systems