By Daryl Conner
Take a career that is physically strenuous and is often conducted in confined, humid spaces, add in the warm air from dryers and other tools, plus the heat of the bodies of dogs, cats and coworkers, and grooming in the summer can be a steamy experience.
We all know how important it is to keep the pets in our care cool and comfortable—but what about us? Sometimes even air–conditioned workspaces do not feel cool enough while we work.
Here are 10 tips to help you stay chill as the temperatures soar:
1. Drink up: In warm environments we all perspire more, and that means we need to increase the amount of fluid we take in to compensate. Although how much water you drink depends on your individual body and exercise level, experts recommend drinking half of your body weight in ounces of water. For example, if you weigh 160 pounds, you should be drinking about 80 ounces of water per day.
If you don’t enjoy the taste of plain water, consider adding fresh lemon juice, mint leaves, cucumber slices or other natural flavors to make it more pleasant. Insulated, reusable water bottles will keep your drink fresh, clean and icy all day long, while being kind to the environment.
2. Check your vitamin intake: Studies conducted by the University of Alabama showed that something as simple as taking vitamin C can increase your tolerance for heat and make summer weather more comfortable. At just 250 milligrams a day, this is worth a try if summer heat is a problem for you1.
3. Ditch heavy meals: Digesting a lunch of a greasy steak or a few slices of pizza is a lot of work for your body and can make you feel warmer. Switch to lighter snacks while you work and see how you feel. Try a fresh salad and some juicy slices of fruit, which will increase your fluid and vitamin intake, and are easier on your digestive system.
4. Plug in a fan: Don’t underestimate the power of moving air. Even a small fan that directs air flow on your face while you work will help keep you feeling more comfortable. If you have room, adding one or more larger fans can keep you working comfortably on hot days.
5. Enjoy a spritz: Keep a spray bottle of water in your work refrigerator and spritz your face and pulse points often during the day. Not only will it feel great, but the evaporation will help lower your body temperature.
6. Change your wardrobe: Switch out tight grooming clothes for looser versions. Most hair–repellant fabrics we wear hold in the heat. But if you opt for a loose grooming vest instead of a snug grooming jacket, you can really feel the difference. I like to wear a knee–length vest and cotton capris in the summer. The vest is long enough to keep hair off my legs, but loose enough to let air circulate freely.
You might also consider looking at clothes that are marketed to athletes. Many are made from fabric that is somewhat hair–repellent and wicks moisture away from the skin. Most also have vents strategically built in to keep people cool while they participate in active sports.
7. Try a cooling neck wrap: A stroll around the internet will show you many brands of cooling neck wraps. These are tubes filled with absorbent gel crystals, and when soaked in cool water, the gel crystals swell and retain moisture. Wear it around your neck to chill the skin and keep cool on a hot day. Also keep a spare one in the refrigerator or cooler and switch them out if you begin to feel too warm. When I was a house–call groomer in Memphis, these were part of my daily summer uniform.
8. Add a dehumidifier: If your workspace is not only warm but humid, that will make you feel the heat more. A good dehumidifier will make your space far more comfortable—especially in hot weather. Ideal relative humidity is 40–50%. Bonus: reducing humidity will also help prevent mold and mildew, making the air you (and the pets) breathe healthier.
9. Block the sun: Curtains and blinds are tricky in a grooming environment because they collect hair and dander and are challenging to keep clean. If you use cellular–type shades that are properly fitted, you can reduce solar heat by as much as 80%.
If your shop is sunny and fabric window coverings are not interesting to you, you might consider adding sun–blocking film to your windows. It is inexpensive, blocks radiant heat flow and can reduce solar heat by as much as 79%2.
10. Consider changing your hours: If you live where it is cooler in the morning, think about starting your workday earlier so you can
be done before temperatures crest in midafternoon.
When working in hot weather, it is important to remember that our bodies cool themselves mainly by sweating. The process of our sweat evaporating off our skin regulates our body temperature. If we are unable to cool ourselves properly, we may develop heat cramps. The symptoms of this usually include fatigue, thirst, heavy sweating and muscle cramps. If not treated, heat exhaustion—or worse—heat stroke, may develop. If you should experience any of the above symptoms, drink water or beverages containing electrolytes (sports drinks), move to a cooler location and rest. If symptoms persist, seek medical attention.
While grooming in hot weather offers challenges, taking some simple steps can help keep you and the animals in your care cooler, more comfortable and safer. ✂️
1. Vitamin C and Tolerance of Heat and Cold: Human Evidence.
2. Myths About Window Film. https://www.conveniencegroup.com/myths-about-window-film