Roofing In Heat

roofing in heat

Summer days are the ideal time for roof work. Demand for roofing is highest, and the weather is usually the best. However, with temperatures spiking all across the country, can it ever be too hot to work on a roof? Here’s everything you need to know about roofing safety in extreme heat, including tips on how to stay cool when working outdoors.

When Heat Is Too Much

As a rule, heat poses a danger to roofing professionals when temperatures climb above 90 degrees. The heat index, which reflects both temperature and humidity, is included in this, too, so this means that even temperatures below 90 can be dangerous. Roofing in heat needs to be monitored at all times.

Certain roofing types pose additional dangers to roofing in heat, as well. Metal roofs and black roofs both absorb heat. They also radiate that heat, which causes the surrounding environment to feel warmer than it actually is.

Tip #1: Be Aware Of The Weather Conditions

The first step to staying cool while roofing in heat is to know your weather conditions. Check your local weather before you head out for the day so you can plan appropriately. 

As temperatures outside meet or exceed your body temperature, it becomes harder for your body to cool itself. You should also pay attention to the humidity. In high humidity, your sweat evaporates slowly, which prevents your body from cooling as effectively. On the other hand, very low humidity can also be a problem. This allows your sweat to evaporate too quickly, which could contribute to dehydration. Roofing companies should consider rescheduling work when temperatures outdoors reach 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

Tip #2: Know Your Work Surfaces

Understand your materials and work surfaces. Metal flashing can become boiling hot in the summer. It’s the best idea to keep these materials out of the direct sun until you are ready to install them. You should also wear heavy gloves when working with any roofing materials in high heat.

When the roofing layout permits, start on the west side of the roof at the beginning of the day. Work on the east in the afternoon, so you can stay out of the direct sunlight. 

Tip #3: Wear The Proper Coverings

The first thought most people have when working into the heat is to take your shirt off. However, you’ll be cooler if you wear a shirt because it keeps your skin out of direct sunlight. Choose a light-colored shirt, bottoms, and shoes to reflect more of the sun’s rays. Consider breathable fabrics like cotton, as well. They will keep you cool in hot weather by letting you feel the breeze.

There are also specialized products to help keep you cool in extreme heat. These include work clothing made from moisture-wicking fabric, shirts with built-in air conditioning, and water-cooled clothing. Even something as simple as soaking a garment in cool water can help you stay cool.

The last piece of proper coverage you need to wear in hot weather is sunscreen. You should wear a chemical-based sunscreen on any skin that is not covered by clothing. Apply the sunscreen 20 minutes before stepping into the sun. Make sure you re-apply your sunscreen every 90 minutes or as noted on the bottle. Use a liquid sunscreen and slather it on liberally. Make sure you are using a sunscreen that is “broad spectrum.” This means it prevents both ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays. Sunscreen is necessary when roofing in heat.

Tip #4: Plan Your Start, Break, And End Times 

Plan your day wisely to stay cool while working on the heat. Starting your day as early as 7 am can help you avoid peak sun hours. Sometimes roofing professionals even attempt to finish their work before the hottest part of the day arrives.

Once the temperature rises, you should take a break every 15 to 30 minutes. Make sure you are getting enough water necessary during the breaks. 

It is also best that workers do not exercise in the morning. This could increase your risk for heat-related illnesses on the job. It’s best to assess your health when you’re done with work and decide if it is safe or not for you to exercise in the evening. 

Tip #5: Drink Plenty Of Water

The most important tip to avoid heatstroke is to remain hydrated. When you are dehydrated, your body will struggle to sweat and control its temperature. This can lead to heat illness quickly. When you’re dehydrated, your heart will have to work harder, which will make you less efficient.

Signs of dehydration include extreme thirst, headache, changes in mood, less frequent urination, fatigue, dizziness, and confusion. Don’t wait until you see signs of dehydration or feel thirsty to drink water. Replace your fluids by sipping water often throughout the day, even if you do not feel thirsty. It is typical for workers in high heat conditions to lose 6 to 8 liters of fluid through sweat a day. This has to be replenished.

Tip #6: Be Able To Recognize and Respond to Heat Illness

There are several heat illnesses ranging in severity. Here are a few and what to look out for.

Heat Syncope

Heat syncope can just present as a very short fainting spell. The victim may also feel lightheaded or dizzy. This most often affects people who are dehydrated or not used to the heat. Obviously, someone who is doing roofing work should not be dizzy or near fainting. Fall protection should be at the top of everyone’s mind when working on roofs.

If a person experiences heat syncope, they should sit or lie down in a cool, air-conditioned area. They should sip water or a diluted sports drink. Complete recovery of your blood pressure may take hours, so be sure to not hop right back up on the roof after experiencing this.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is when the body is struggling to cool itself effectively. This will develop into heat stroke if left untreated. 

The signs of heat exhaustion are a slight rise in core body temperature from 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit to 102.2 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also use a person’s heart rate to estimate if they are suffering from heatstroke. A resting worker’s heart rate should be falling. Someone suffering from heat illness will maintain a high heart rate even while resting. Other signs of heat exhaustion included nausea, headache, vertigo, weakness, thirst, heavy sweating, irritability, and decreased urination. 

Once you’ve determined someone has heat exhaustion, seek medical care immediately. Bring the person to a cool, air-conditioned location. Any unnecessary clothing, including shoes and socks, should be removed. The person should be encouraged to take small, frequent sips of cool water.

Heat Stroke

The line between heat exhaustion and heat stroke is not very clear. Many were taught that the first sign of heatstroke is when you stop sweating. However, you can be having a heat stroke and sweating at the same time, it is called an exertional heatstroke.

Heatstroke is a medical emergency. Symptoms include a high body temperature, confusion, odd behavior, hot skin, loss of consciousness, and seizures.

If you are someone else is experiencing these symptoms, call 911 for the victim immediately. Have someone stay with the person in a cool area until medical help arrives. Remove the person’s outer clothes and apply ice packs or cold cloths to the person’s neck, head, armpits, groin, and ankles. Wet their skin and soak their clothing with cool water. Use fans to circulate air around the victim. Heatstroke is no joke and needs to be addressed right away. 

Final Thoughts

The heat keeps rising, so we want you to make sure you stay safe and healthy this summer, and that your roof does, too. Call us at 636-699-0449 so we can assist you in any of your roofing needs!