Are you familiar with the term Nomex? If you work in or around any of the plants in Louisiana, you should be very familiar with the term. Many safety jobs require the use of the Nomex suit, a fire resistant, cut resistant, safety suit made from material created by the company DuPont. We all know what it looks like. Generally it is a full body jumpsuit and is aimed at providing the best protection for the worker.
The flame resistant material, although constructed to be less restrictive and cooler, can’t overcome the heat of Louisiana summers.
So, how do you remain cool when your safety depends on you wearing hot clothes?
Combating the Heat of Louisiana and Nomex
Get Products to Help You Keep Cool
There are many innovative products on the market today that help keep you cool – cooling bandanas, neck coolers, ice vests, cooler packs that go into your hard hats, but you don’t have to spend a fortune combatting the heat. Water-dampened clothing, a simple spray bottle of water, or ice packs are just as effective – and much easier on your pocketbook!
Cool Down The Important Parts First
Forget that myth about losing body heat the quickest from the head (keep the head cool and the rest of the body will be cool). That is an old wives tale that was disproved by scientist in 2008. The human head accounts for about 7% of the body surface, and proportionately, we lose about 7-10% of body heat from the head.
So, if this isn’t true, what are the most important parts of the body when we are trying to keep cool? The ears, nose, cheeks, hands and feet! Not because of surface area, but because these body parts have special blood vessels that control cooling and warming. By cooling these areas first, we can cool the entire body faster.
Drink water, and Lots of It!
Maybe this should’ve been first on the list. It is the single most important thing you can do to keep yourself cool and protected in the Nomex suit.
When we are hot, we sweat. This is our body’s way of regulating its temperature. We release sweat, the heat evaporates the sweat, the evaporated sweat cools the body. We need this physical process to happen to maintain in the heat.
In order for this process to work, the water intake has to be greater than the water loss in our sweat. Without replacing the water that is evaporated in our sweat, it can cause serious issues within the body. Most people can tolerate a three to four percent decrease in body water without difficulty. A five to eight percent decrease can cause fatigue and dizziness. Over ten percent can cause physical and mental deterioration, accompanied by severe thirst. A decrease more than fifteen to twenty-five percent of the body water is invariably fatal.
So drink water! And lot’s of it!
As a safety professional in Louisiana, whether it be a hole watch, fire watch, confined space attendant, safety tech, or even a safety manager, you know the Louisiana heat. You know the Nomex suit. So, now make sure you know the proper way to combat that heat.