Released: July 03, 2003
Sun, Heat Protection Tips For Farmers With Disabilities
MANHATTAN, Kan. – It is impossible for farmers to completely eliminate occupational exposure to summer’s intense sun and heat. And for producers who, because of injury or illness, are highly heat sensitive, summer sun and heat may also make it nearly impossible to complete even routine outside chores.
But there are steps farmers can take to help regulate their body temperatures so they can maintain routine outdoor work, according to Julia Beems, Project Coordinator for the Kansas AgrAbility Project.
"A variety of products are available to assist individuals who experience heightened sun sensitivity. There are a number of companies that offer summer-weight clothing that provides a sun-screen effect," Beems said. "For farmers who have difficulty regulating body temperature, there are various cooling products like vests and hats that can be soaked in water to provide long-term cooling effects. The clothing contains pockets of beads that absorb water and remain hydrated for extended periods of time. Using this type of hydrated clothing provides for a continual evaporative cooling effect."
Beems said problems in regulating body temperature can stem from spinal cord injuries, post-polio syndrome, multiple sclerosis or neurological impairment.
In addition, many medications come with side effects, including heightened sensitivity to the sun. Any farmer who is regularly taking medication – either prescription or over-the-counter – should ask his or her pharmacist or physician about potential side effects such as sun or heat sensitivity, she said.
"Most of the adaptive clothing we recommend for use by people with heat/sun sensitivity is fairly easy to find. Often it can be found at local camping or outdoor stores or at farm supply stores that sell safety and personal protective equipment," Beems said.
Prevention, however, is still the best weapon in reducing the risks of overexposure to sun and heat. Try to avoid the sun between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., the AgrAbility coordinator said. That may be difficult for farmers, but it is important to realize that the sun’s ultraviolet rays are strongest from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Whether or not your body’s ability to tolerate heat is compromised, it’s still a good idea to wear protective clothing, sunscreen with a sun protective factor (SPF) of 15 or higher, and to take frequent water breaks, she said.
Kansas AgrAbility is a project of K-State Research and Extension, based in Manhattan and Southeast Kansas Independent Living, based in Parsons. The project’s primary objective is to promote success in farming for people with disabilities and their families. For more information about Kansas AgrAbility, call 1-800-526-3648 or 785-532-2976. Internet access to Kansas AgrAbility can be found at www.ksre.ksu.edu/agrability
K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus, Manhattan.
Julia Beems is at 303-315-1284 and Kerri Ebert is at 785-532-2976