Archaeology Work in Hot Weather

Last weekend, I participated in a conversation on hot weather health and safety on the CRM Archaeology Podcast. Most of us are aware of the dangers of working in hot weather (temperatures above 90 degrees), but we may not all be aware of measures we can take to prevent injuries. Knowledge of hot weather safety is essential for that works outside for long periods of time, especially CRM archaeologists, architectural historians, and heritage conservation specialists.

I’ve provided a short PDF document you can download with a few tips on hot weather health and safety. Save this document to your smartphone or computer so you can use it as a quick reference.

Click Here to Get Your Archaeology Hot Weather Tips Worksheet

The PDF basically says:

  1. The best way to stay safe is to acclimatize your body to the conditions.
  2. Pay attention to your body and watch your co-workers. Watch for signs of heat-related illness
  3. Stay hydrated. Keep hydrating long after you’ve left the field.
  4. If you see anyone succumbing to the heat or you feel “funny” yourself, take immediate action. Do not hesitate to lower your body temperature. Heat illness will follow you for the rest of your life and make you more likely to get hurt from the heat in the future.

Unfortunately, I have seen a number of archaeologists get heat-related injuries, some of which landed them in the hospital. I have also helped/saved a few people by acting quickly to lower their temperature and battle dehydration/hyponatremia. Working during the summer in southern Arizona and Virginia has taught me that the heat can be our worst enemy in the field. We can do archaeology in extreme heat, but it takes caution and attentiveness to personal limits and the limits of others. People are acclimatized to the environments they live in. Susceptibility to heat illness depends on the individual and their level of acclimation. Folks in colder climates would suffer greatly if they came down to Tucson to work in the spring when it’s only 85 degrees.

In order to stay safe, you need to be aware of your own limits and listen when your body tells you something. It is up to all of us to prevent heat-related illness.

Please stay safe out there. If you have any questions or comments, write below or send me an email.


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