Take care working outdoors during hot weather

(Updated August 12, 2021)

Hot weather has arrived with temperatures into the high 90s now upon us. It’s important to take steps to stay cool while continuing to follow mask requirements and public health guidance.

Some of our work needs to be performed outdoors. Executive Branch departments should evaluate planned field work to determine if this work can be postponed to a later time when temperatures moderate, where possible. If work must be performed, departments should attempt to adapt schedules wherever possible so work can be performed in the morning.

This week’s forecast calls for:

  • Thursday: highs in the low to mid 90s, overnight lows in the mid-to-upper 60s
  • Friday: highs in the upper 90s, overnight lows in the upper 60s to low 70s
  • Saturday: some cooling, but still hot, overnight temps will be higher than normal
  • Sunday: temperatures should be at or near normal.

Please see the following guidance and tips (this guidance applies to employees in the Executive branch: employees who report to the Assessor, Elections Director, the Sheriff, and the County Executive. Employees in other branches of County government may receive additional guidance from their leaders):

For managers and supervisors 

  • If an employee normally performs field work outdoors for extended periods, please consider curtailing all non-critical outdoor work on the hottest days
  • Consider adjusting employee work schedules, locations, or regularly assigned duties during extreme heat days if these are options
  • If employees must work outdoors, please attempt to have work completed in the morning and avoid work in direct sunlight
  • Ensure employees take frequent breaks in the shade or air-conditioned locations (e.g., office space, library, community center, grocery store), and reduce drive times, if possible
  • Wherever possible, employees should avoid outdoor work in direct sunlight from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the hottest days. 

For outdoor workers

  • Talk to your supervisor about adjusting scheduling to avoid all non-critical outdoor work on the hottest days, or perform critical outdoors tasks in the morning only
  • Take breaks in the shade or in an air-conditioned space
  • Stay hydrated. Have a beverage with you at all times, and sip or drink frequently. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink
  • Avoid sunburn. Use a sunscreen lotion with a high SPF (sun protection factor) rating and wear protective clothing.

Remember that mask mandates remain in place. 

  • Employees and members of the public are required to wear masks in indoor spaces that are open to the public and in public spaces, whether or not they are vaccinated. This includes public lobby and meeting spaces, public indoor recreation spaces, public service counters, and similar spaces open to the public
  • It is strongly recommended that all employees wear a mask when working in indoor areas not open to the public, whether or not they are vaccinated, to provide additional protection to themselves, co-workers, and customers
  • Employees who are still required under CDC guidance to wear masks in their work settings include those in correctional facilities, homeless shelters, schools, public transportation, long-term care, and healthcare settings.

Tips for everyone

  • Check on at-risk friends, family, and neighbors
  • If you’re outdoors, take breaks in the shade or in air-conditioned buildings. Avoid direct contact with the sun
  • Avoid exercising or strenuous activity in direct sunlight from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on the hottest days when the heat is most intense
  • Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of water and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink more
  • NEVER leave infants, children, or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked open! It only takes a few minutes for severe medical problems and even death to occur
  • Watch for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Seek medical care immediately if you know someone who experiences symptoms.
  • Certain health conditions and medications make people more sensitive to heat. Check with your doctor about whether you are at greater risk. 

Signs of heat exhaustion

  • Heavy sweating
  • Weakness
  • Cold, pale, and clammy skin
  • Weak pulse
  • Fainting
  • Vomiting.

Signs of heat stroke

  • High body temperature (103° F or higher)
  • Hot, dry skin
  • Rapid and strong pulse
  • Possible unconsciousness.

More information: www.kingcounty.gov/BeatTheHeat.