Coping with Texas Summer Heat

May 26, 2020

Risk Management News

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When you think of summertime in Texas, your thoughts may turn to fun activities like going to a beach, floating a river, or attending a Fourth of July celebration, a water melon thump or a baseball game. This time of the year can also come with drought conditions and many days when temps reach 100-plus degrees.

The heat can present challenges for protecting county employees and maintaining county buildings, automobiles and equipment. Below are some suggestions to help do this.

Employee safety

County employees and elected officials are a county’s most valuable assets. To protect them, it’s important to make sure they follow appropriate safety measures.

During the summer, it is very important to remain hydrated. Road and bridge crews, law enforcement officers or other employees who regularly work outside should have coolers or ice chests available with water or other hydrating beverages.

Employees should also wear appropriate gloves during this this time of year to protect them from hot surfaces they could encounter while operating heavy equipment or while inspecting roofs.

In addition, Texas has a wide variety of venomous or dangerous animals and insects that are active during summer months. It is important that staff pay attention to their surroundings to avoid getting bitten or stung. Conduct first aid training and establish protocols to be prepared for stings or bites.

Finally, county employees may be called upon to help control brush or wildfires, an activity that can be extremely dangerous. Employees should have appropriate training and use personal protective equipment to stay safe as they do so.

Buildings

The summer heat causes additional stress to buildings and mechanicals. Air conditioners may at times run 24/7 in the middle of the summer so it’s important to have a heating, ventilation and air conditioning professional regularly inspect them.

Clogged air conditioning drain lines will occur if filters aren’t changed frequently. This can result in water leaks that can potentially damage ceilings, walls or floors.

During drought-like conditions, keep dry and flammable materials away from the outside perimeter of the building while storing chemicals or flammable materials properly.

Roof and other leaks can create the ideal hot and humid conditions for mold growth. For this reason it is important to store valuable equipment or records in a regularly checked climate controlled space. Vacant or unoccupied buildings should also be secured and checked regularly.

Vehicles and mobile equipment

Summer heat causes additional stress on vehicles and equipment. It is common for batteries to fail during the summer months.

Inspect vehicles regularly and ensure you have appropriate jumper cables available and have trained employees on how to use them. Check tires regularly to avoid having to change a flat in the heat of the day.

With school out, more children may be out and about, so it’s especially important to practice safe driving habits. It is common for counties or businesses to require employees perform a walk around the vehicle before operating it each time. This is a good habit to establish to be aware of the vehicle’s surroundings and check the condition of its tires.

Tractors are often used in fields during the early summer growing season. Oil or other fluid leaks or spills plus the heat can cause tractors or other equipment to catch fire. Inspect equipment for leaks and cleanup spills, especially while operating around dry grass and other materials.