Tuesday, July 8, 2014

It’s not the heat, it’s the humidity. Wait, it’s both of those things

By Wendy Waren, LRA VP of Communications

Summer is here in Louisiana and the temperature is inching its way past the 90s, and still not nearly as hot as it’s going to be in a month or two from now (like you need a reminder). I believe it was the summer of 2012 when a road near the Louisiana Restaurant Association’s headquarters in Metairie buckled from the intense heat and my husband’s steering wheel in his Ford Explorer melted.
Speaking of humidity, I read this really interesting article in The New York Times, 3 Ways Humidity Exerts Its Terrible Control Over You, about how humidity impacts our behavior and mood. Apparently, humidity makes us forgetful. Participants in a study had a hard time remembering a series of numbers when it was hot outside. Well, my memory isn’t so good anyway, but with this oppressive heat, I could care less about a series of numbers.

Another way humidity takes its toll on the human body? It makes us lethargic. It zaps our energy. This is a really good explanation for why I struggled to keep my eyes open the other evening and fell asleep on the couch at 7:45 p.m. Lastly, the third point, which I can’t imagine is a bad thing for anyone, humidity make us less anxious. Who among us couldn’t stand to be less anxiety-ridden? In the safety realm though, humidity can weaken alertness. 

The LRA Self Insurer’s Fund (LRA SIF) for workers’ compensation receives a handful of calls annually from plan participants reporting employee heat stress. LRA SIF VP of Loss Prevention Victor Balbuena says it’s probably pretty common, given the type of businesses in the program, but likely, these employees are replenishing their fluids and resting or going home after a heat stress episode.

“Headache, dizziness, fainting, weakness, wet skin, irritability, confusion, thirst, nausea or vomiting are all symptoms of heat stress,” said Balbuena. “Drinking lots of water, at least one pint per hour, wearing light-colored, breathable clothing and taking frequent rest periods in the shade or air conditioning is highly advised.”

It is also a good idea to be sure that your kitchen exhaust fans and supply air systems are working properly as well. The same goes for your line and walk-in refrigeration systems. A little preventative maintenance can save a lot of dollars in lost inventory and frustration. 

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