The Dog Days of summer are here, and while it may be hard to believe if you’re adverse to laboring under a hot summer sun, more people move during the summer months than any other time of the year – in fact, 70 percent of all moving in the United States occurs between Memorial Day and Labor Day! If you’re planning on moving yourself with a rental van or truck, it’s important to understand that performing manual labor such as moving furniture and boxes during the hot summer months can cause dehydration, heat exhaustion or even heat stroke. There’s simply no substitute for planning ahead and preparing for the heat, especially when you’re crunched for time during a do-it-yourself move!
Water, Water Everywhere!
If you’re planning on moving during the summer months, there’s simply no excuse for not having plenty of cool, easily-accessible drinking water around you at all times. Some summertime activities that can directly lead to heat- and humidity-related health conditions include working directly in the sun, poor air movement, physical exertion, and poor physical fitness, which can all apply to do-it-yourself moving projects. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends that those working in these conditions consume at least one cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes.
Purchase and utilize a large water bottle that you can easily fill, and keep it close to you as you work. If the bottle becomes empty, stop what you’re doing and refill it, as putting off this refill can cause you to neglect your water consumption and quickly dehydrate. If you have invited friends or family to assist you with your move, keep a large cooler full of bottled water or a large insulated water dispenser with cups nearby and encourage everyone to drink regularly. While sports drinks such as Gatorade and Powerade can be acceptable substitutes for water, others may not want to consume a beverage with sweeteners and other additives. Sodas aren’t as effective at hydration and alcoholic beverages can dehydrate you over time, so it’s a good idea to stick with water or at least offer water as an alternative to other beverages.
Don’t Underestimate the Effects of Humidity
If you’ve lived your entire life in the Denver area or in the Southwest United States, and are now moving to an area with excessive humidity, it’s important to understand the effects that humidity can have on your body – you do sweat more excessively when it’s humid! According to the MIT School of Engineering, the rate by which water evaporates greatly depends on the amount of water that’s already in the air. In arid climates, sweat evaporates more quickly, which means our body’s natural cooling systems are working more efficiently, but in humid climates, sweat evaporates more slowly, and our body’s ability to cool off is hindered.
If you are moving to an area with excessive humidity, it’s important to ensure that you’re not over-stressing your body before you’ve given it a chance to acclimate. Give yourself more time to complete your move, which will in turn allow you to take longer and more frequent breaks. Try to move in the early morning or evening when the temperatures will be somewhat lower, and consider consuming beverages with added electrolytes, which will replace the electrolytes that are lost in excessive sweat. If you can’t or prefer not to consume sweetened sports beverages, there are brands of bottled water available that contain added electrolytes.
Other Ways to Stay Cool
In addition to staying hydrated, it’s also important to rest and cool off during a summer move. Don’t consider it “wimpy” if you want to duck inside an air-conditioned space during your break – in fact, doing so can extend your natural endurance and allow you to get more work done once you step back outside. If you’re moving to a new home with air conditioning, be sure to have your utilities switched on before your move, allowing you to utilize that air conditioning once you begin unloading your belongings. Finally, don’t attempt to drive for a long period and deprive yourself of sleep after a strenuous moving session; instead, give yourself plenty of time to rest at night, as working in the heat can put extra strain on your body and your mind.