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Topic #3

Volunteer Work in Extreme Temperatures

Watch the 2-minute video and learn ways to stay safe.

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You signed up to volunteer a few weeks ago, but on the day of your shift, there’s a heat wave. Or an unexpected cold snap.

Extreme temperatures can lead to unsafe conditions, whether you are working indoors or outdoors. You need to recognize what is unsafe and know how to address it.

The FACTS: What you need to KNOW

  1. Working in an environment that is too hot can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which can be fatal. Humidity makes it worse and is reflected in the Heat Index.
  2. Working in an environment that is too cold can lead to hypothermia. Cold water immersion is especially dangerous, and you can get hypothermia in water below 70°F.
  3. Both Hypothermia (low body temperature) and hyperthermia (high body temperature) affect your brain. You become confused and unable to do anything to help yourself.
  4. Both high and low temperatures can lead to injury when your glasses get fogged or your hands become stiff or sweaty.

THE ACTIONS: What you need to DO

Monitor the weather and pay attention to the temperature. Adjust your plans and tasks to stay safe in extreme temperatures. 

Set up a buddy system to keep an eye on each other. Ask your buddy if they have any health conditions. Create a schedule for check-ins to make sure your buddy is not showing symptoms of hypothermia, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke. 

HEAT: Take breaks in shade or air conditioning. Drink fluids to stay hydrated. Learn about acclimatization and how to increase exposure gradually. Install the OSHA Heat Safety Tool on your phone. Learn what hyperthermia looks like and how to treat it.

COLD: Determine what clothing is best for your environment, such as a jacket, gloves, and a hat. Stay dry and bring extra clothing in case you get wet. Learn what hypothermia looks like and how to treat it. This also applies if you work in a walk-in cooler.