High Heat and Wildfires: Keeping Safe

By Terry Arko

August can bring some of the hottest days of summer. Unfortunately, along with the extreme heat, many Western U.S. states are also hit by raging wildfires. As someone who worked as a service tech for 10 years in Southern California, I have experienced those truly “dog days” of summer with both extreme heat and fires. This year more than ever, it’s good to be aware of some practical safety tips to keep yourself safe while servicing pools.

Avoid Heat Exhaustion

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers many important and valuable tips on their website for preventing heat exhaustion. Here are a few additional ideas:

  • Dress cool. This is not too much of a problem for service pros. Wear light, quick drying swim shorts and sports shirts designed with a fast-drying moisture wicking fabric and UV protection. One example is the REI CO-OP Sahara T-Shirt. Wear loose shirts that allow airflow. Cool athletic shoes or sturdy sandals are preferable. Cooling towels around the neck can also be very helpful. Wear a hat with a large brim to shade the sun. Complete the ensemble with good quality UV resistant sunglasses.
  • Use a good quality SPF 50 sport sunscreen.
  • Stay Hydrated. Keep cool bottled water or a cooler of ice water with you. Don’t wait until you are thirsty. Drink often to slake your thirst and make sure to keep hydrated. Your body loses lots of electrolytes through perspiration and this can lead to heat stroke. Incorporate sports drinks or add small amounts of salt, sugar and lemon or lime juice to your water to keep yourself properly hydrated.
  • Keep cool. When feeling overheated, make sure to take a break and cool off. If allowed by your customers, use the hose with the nozzle on mist and spray yourself down with cool water. Or just sit in your vehicle with the AC on. Also, jumping in the pools you are servicing can help keep you cool as you travel from pool to pool. Again, suggest you make certain your customers don’t mind if you use their pool to cool off.

Tips for Wildfire Safety

Following are some tips from the HASA Tech Points sheet entitled “Clean Up After A Wildfire”:

  • Avoid areas of active wildfires and never cross emergency barriers to service a swimming pool or hot tub.
  • Carry protective gear and emergency supplies when working anywhere near an active wildfire. This includes having:
    • Extra drinking water
    • Respirator masks
    • Goggles
    • Fireproof blanket
  • Ensure that your cell phone is fully charged.
  • Park only in areas that allow ample room for emergency vehicle traffic.
  • Plan and allow for more than one route out of areas where wildfires are burning.
  • Work with a licensed electrician to restore power from damaged equipment connections.
  • Be aware of downed power lines.
  • Check and inspect for damage to plumbing lines and connections if the pool water was pumped out and used for fighting the fire.
  • Look for signs of erosion in the surrounding area that could lead to excessive flooding from future rainstorms. Prepare the area ahead of time with sandbags to protect the pool area and equipment.
  • Use liquid sodium hypochlorite for immediate chlorine introduction into the water to start getting the body of water balanced.

This could be one of the most challenging summers in the pool industry. Remember, you are ALL “essential workers” and your health and safety are vital to keeping our communities and families protected. Stay cool, stay safe. For further information, please free to reach out to me at AskTerry@hasapool.com. The first 10 Pool Pros to contact me with a tip on how they stay cool while servicing pools will receive some free HASA gear.

* For the complete Tech Points Sheet “Clean Up After A Wildfire,” please refer to the following link: https://bit.ly/328tGRy

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