Are You Making These 5 Heat Related Illness Mistakes?

The warmest months of the year are upon us, and for utility workers, that means going straight from tornado season into hurricane season and all the emergency calls that come with it. Whether you are in Tornado Alley doing repairs from the latest twister or around the Gulf Coast dealing with the aftermath of another Category 3 storm ripping through region, odds are that it is going to be hot and humid, and with that heat and humidity comes the risk of heat related illness. What starts as minor discomfort in the sun can turn into more severe problems from sunburn and heat exhaustion to even heat stroke, which can lead to death (as if linemen didn’t have enough hazards to worry about). The power might need to be restored, but you aren’t doing anybody any good if you pass out in your aerial bucket because you didn’t take care of yourself first. So if you are going to be out on storm duty, don’t find yourself down for the count because you made these five mistakes in regards to preventing heat related illness.

Heat Related Illness Mistakes and Their Solutions

The First Mistake

Not listening to your mother. Why? Because I guarantee your mother told you to drink more water. You know drinking water is good for you. We all know this, but are we putting that knowledge into practice? You may be thinking you’re getting enough fluids from other sources (e.g. coffee, sodas, and energy drinks), but though research shows the caffeine content in these ultimately won’t lead to dehydration, they can increase how often you need to find a bathroom. That isn’t ideal when you are climbing a pole or working from a bucket truck (not to mention that your mother would frown upon those extra unnecessary calories). Sports drinks designed to replenish electrolytes can also be a good idea. You probably know someone who always wears a sweat stained baseball cap (it might be you), and you’ve seen the salt crusted around the sides. Those are electrolytes lost to sweat, and they are necessary to keep your body running correctly. If possible, keep water with you in (perhaps in a cupholder designed to fit your aerial bucket), and keep drinking.

The Second Mistake

Also not listening to your mother. She told you to put on sunscreen, didn’t she? Who are we kidding? She probably put you in a headlock and slathered it on you herself. She didn’t want to deal with your sunburns and neither do you. Whether it’s sunscreen or sun protective clothing, she knew the damage exposure to the sun could cause, and she wanted you protected. Whether it’s the immediate consequences of a sunburn and even sun sickness or the long term risk of skin cancer, the hazard of extended exposure to UV rays is well documented. Now the idea of covering up might fly in the face of your philosophy of “sun’s out guns out,” but look at the desert dwellers around the world: the key to staying cool in extreme temperatures is light colored loose fitting/breathable clothing. Clothes that reflects away the sun’s rays while also allowing air to move around the body aid the evaporative cooling mechanism that makes sweating such a wonderful natural temperature regulator. You may not be able to escape the need to wear heavy protective gear, but if possible, help your body’s cooling mechanism by incorporating cooling bandanas or hard hat fans. It’s amazing what a bit of breeze can do.

The Third Mistake

Still not listening to your mother. She tried to tell you to get the hard stuff done first so you could take it easy later. The same holds true when working in the heat. Do the heaviest and hardest labor in the morning before it heats up (or in the evening after it cools down). Plan ahead as much as you can to avoid doing the most demanding tasks in the early afternoon hours. Now even your mother knew it wasn’t always possible to avoid all activity during the hottest hours, but that’s when she was standing by with a popsicle in the shade. Take it from your mother, you need to take breaks to get out of the sun, cool down, and rehydrate.

The Fourth Mistake

You guessed it… Your mother told you to watch out for your siblings. She expected you to get each other home safely, and that’s your job as linemen too. Is your crew staying hydrated? Does everyone have enough water. Does anyone need sunscreen? Is everyone taking breaks to cool down? Are you watching out for symptoms of heat related illness in yourself and others (e.g. headache, nausea, cramps, weakness, confusion…etc.)? Does your crew know what to do if these symptoms present themselves?

The Fifth Mistake

Thinking there are only five mistakes. Your mother was constantly vigilant over your safety, and she would be reassured to know you are too. Like a Boy Scout, her motto was “be prepared” and she was (have you seen a mother’s purse?). You are well aware of the hazards that come with high voltage, but don’t ignore the hazards that come with high heat. Heat related illnesses are no joke. Make sure you and your crew have what you need to beat the heat. Do you have water? Do you have shade? Do you have fans? Do you have a plan to to protect yourself and your crew?

Side Note: This may not exactly be heat-illness related, but with warm temperatures also come bugs, and there’s nothing worse and more distracting than being hot and sweaty and surrounded by buzzing and biting insects while trying to restore power to a neighborhood. Your mother knew enough to cover you in bug spray, and like always, she knew best. Make sure you are using the right products though because DEET (the key chemical in most bug sprays) is not recommended for use on FR clothing. These are good options for sprays or wipes to use directly on your skin and another spray specifically for your FR clothes.

Trust Tallman

At Tallman Equipment, we may not be your mother, but we do care about you and the work you do. Sometimes there’s no avoiding the heat when the power is out and an entire town is counting on you, but heat related illness can still be avoided if you cut out some unnecessary mistakes and plan ahead for heat illness prevention. Remember: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Geoffrey Kruger

Geoffrey Kruger


Born in Washington and raised in Colorado, Geoffrey is a graduate of Calvin University. He is an ardent supporter of the Oxford Comma and smoked meats. He lives in Indiana with his wife and daughter.

All the best tools & Equipment Linemen need every day

At Tallman Equipment, our priority is to set the standard in the electrical transmission and distribution industry with an all-inclusive approach to serving our customers. We carry the best lineman tools and equipment from many of the top manufacturers in the business today. Our vision to deliver a trio of quality, convenience, and reliability is driven by listening and adapting to our customers’ needs. We work with our clients to ensure they find the right lineman tools and equipment for the job. For more information on any of the products we sell, give us a call today at 877-860-5666.

We’re more than just tool Sales

Check Out Our Unique Combination of Services

Tool & Equipment Rental

When new equipment purchases aren’t an option, Tallman Equipment’s tool rental department is here to meet your shorter-term needs! We house a large inventory of the most commonly used equipment for the construction and maintenance of electrical transmission and distribution systems.

Tool & Equipment Repair

We consider no tool to be outside the experience and training of our technicians. Some examples of commonly repaired tools include hydraulic, pneumatic, gas, and battery-powered equipment, stringing blocks, dynamometers, chain hoists, strap hoists, capstan hoists, and rope products.

Grounds & Jumpers
Manufacturing, repair and refurbishment 

Tallman Equipment has a full-service assembly department skilled in building and repairing custom grounds and jumpers. We can build customized grounds and jumpers to your specifications as quickly as a day. Our testing process meets ASTM standards

Transformer Sling

Manufaturing & Rope Repair

Tallman leads the industry in developing and manufacturing transformer slings. Whatever your need may be, our trained and certified Master Splicer can build custom rope assemblies for unique applications, along with winch lines for buckets, diggers, bumper winches, and high strength tow ropes.


Testing, Repair & Refinishing

Tallman offers complete repair and reconditioning of your fiberglass tools compliant with OSHA and ASTM standards. Our technicians can tackle all brands of hot sticks, conductor and support gins, ladders, extension arms, shotgun sticks, fixed sticks, and much more.

Rubber Goods
Cleaning & Testing 

Tallman is now offering rubber goods testing and cleaning of linemen’s rubber gloves, blankets, sleeves, hoods, line hose, and hardcover. All testing and procedures conform to ASTM standards and involve thorough washing, visual inspection, dielectric testing, and date stamping.