Summer's high temperatures and humidity have been relentless in southwest Missouri. As heat advisories continue, farmers should remember the dangers of high heat as they head to the fields, according to Amanda Marney, agriculture preparedness specialist, University of Missouri Extension.
"Heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke are real risks for people exposed to excessive heat," said Marney. "Heat can cause direct harm if you get so hot your body can't handle it and it also adds to the stress that can be a big contributor to accidents."
Here are some tips to help keep farmers safe during hot weather:
* Drink plenty of water before you feel thirsty. "In hot weather that means at least eight large glasses a day; and more if you're really working up a sweat," said Marney.
* Wear cool clothes. Light-colored, loose-fitting clothes made of natural fibers like cotton will help you stay cool. Socks made of materials such as Polypropylene and Thermex will help your feet stay cool and dry. A wide-brimmed hat can help you stay comfortable in addition to shielding your face and neck from the sun. Farmers also need to remember to use sunscreen.
* Take time to cool off. "Splash yourself with water occasionally and take breaks in the shade. Five minutes spent cooling off is less time from work than a trip to the emergency room -- or months in physical therapy due to a stress-related accident," said Marney.
* Plan around the heat. "Think about the heat forecast as well as the rain forecast. Avoid strenuous work if it is very hot; save it for a cooler day," said Marney.
* Watch the sweat factor. "Sweat helps cool your skin as it evaporates. However, it can also make your hands slippery and impede your vision. Be extra careful when performing everyday tasks when you are sweaty," said Marney.
* Think about safety basics. Make sure all tractors have rollover protection. Replace missing shields, maintain and use lights, flashers and reflectors on machines. Replace slow-moving vehicle signs as needed.