Take care working outdoors during extreme heat

(Updated August 15, 2022)

Extremely hot weather is forecast for our region this week, with high temperatures expected. 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 when temperatures are cooler, where possible. If work must be performed, departments should attempt to adapt schedules wherever possible so work can be performed in the morning. Please see the following advice and tips (this applies to Executive Branch employees. Employees in other branches of County government may receive additional guidance from their leaders). For complete Department of Labor and Industries requirements, please refer to WAC 296-62-095 Outdoor heat exposure.

For managers and supervisors 

  • If an employee normally performs field work outdoors for extended periods, please consider curtailing all non-critical outdoor work 
  • 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 (for example, office space, library, community center, grocery store), and reduce drive times, if possible
  • Encourage employees to frequently consume water or other acceptable beverages to ensure hydration
  • Wherever possible, employees should avoid outdoor work in direct sunlight from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on extreme heat 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.

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. Monday 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. Follow up with your supervisor if you seek medical treatment
  • 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.

For our furry friends

  • Limit exercise on hot days. Exercise in the early morning or evening hours
  • Walk your pet in the grass if possible, to avoid hot surfaces burning their paws
  • If your pet is outside, make sure they have access to shade and plenty of cool water.

Get more information at kingcounty.gov/BeatTheHeat. For more pet safety tips, read this article from the American Red Cross.