According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year about 658 people die from heat-related causes, including heat stroke and heat exhaustion. While all employees who work outside are at risk, construction workers are especially susceptible, comprising 36 percent of all heat-related deaths over the past 25 years. Luckily, heat illness is entirely preventable on and off the job. One of the best ways to minimize risk is to wear cooling clothing for work, including cooling towels.
The Dangers of High Heat at Work
But first, an obvious question: Why is heat a big deal? Working at high temperatures puts employees at risk of a few dangerous conditions, including a potentially life-threatening one called heat stroke. This condition occurs when the body fails to regulate its own temperature and rises to greater than 104 degrees Fahrenheit. This causes confusion, a loss of consciousness, and seizures. Heatstroke is a medical emergency and can lead to death, so it’s not something workers or employers can afford to ignore.
There are a few more heat-related conditions that frequently occur in high-heat workplaces. Heat exhaustion occurs when the body temperature rises to over 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, causing nausea, headache, dizziness, and other uncomfortable symptoms. Heat cramps, heat rash, dehydration, and fatigue are common among employees who spend their days outside in the hot sun or indoors in hot kitchens, factories, or boiler rooms. While these conditions are less serious, they can trigger serious illness, discomfort, and lack of focus at work.
Use Cooling Towels and Wraps
In addition to staying hydrated, using a cooling towel at work can help keep the body temperature low to prevent heat exhaustion or stroke. How do cooling towels work? Simply put, they are water-activated and use evaporation to draw water away from the body. To use cooling towels, you must soak them in water for two to three minutes and wring them out before use.
Essentially, they act as an artificial temperature regulator when your body isn’t regulating temperature itself, lowering the body temp to a safe level and staving off the symptoms associated with heatstroke and exhaustion. Interestingly, though cooling wraps and towels are water-activated, they don’t feel wet to the touch, making them comfortable for all-day wear.
The best of these products will last for five or more hours, providing cooling relief at work between breaks. If you work outside, we recommend using a cooling wrap around the neck during the hottest portion of the day, to help reduce the effects of heat stress, fight fatigue, and keep you comfortable and focused throughout long shifts. You can also wrap cooling towels and wraps around your arms or wear one beneath your hard hat for an effective way to cool down.
Once the cooling towel or wrap has been activated with water, it is extremely easy to "recharge" its cooling power. Because the towels utilize the evaporation process, they are easily affected by the ambient air temperature. To "recharge" the cooling power of your towel or wrap, simply take your moistened towel and whip it around in the air like a lasso; and reapply to your neck. Most users will enjoy a chilling 20-degrees difference on their skin. As long as the towel is moist, you can "recharge" its cooling power as often as you like.
Of course, these cutting-edge cooling fabrics do more than just chill you out at work. They’re also a popular option for sports—both playing and spectating—as well as while hiking, camping, hunting, fishing, cycling, and just relaxing in the backyard on hot summer days.
More Ways to Stay Cool
Keeping Workers Safe
Protecting our workers from heat illnesses is crucial to keeping them safe and focused on the job. With a combination of heatstroke prevention tactics and the right cooling workwear, you can drastically lower the risk of heat-related illnesses and fatalities in your workplace.