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Nursing in a Heat Wave

July 14th, 2010 by – Marijke Durning

Depending on what part of the continent you live in, you may be used to hot temperatures all the time or you may only experience them during the summer months. Either way, there’s a time when hot outside becomes too hot and we experience a heat wave.

Of course, with heat waves come the air conditioning battles. If you work in an air conditioned environment, the temperature may rise and fall depending on how hot or cold the “Thermostat Queen” (or King) decides it should be. These temperatures can vary considerably and change if there are hot flashes or heavy physical work involved. A nurse or certified nursing assistant (CNA) who is doing physical patient care, particularly on large patients, is going to be getting hotter while working than the unit secretary who is at the desk. This isn’t confined to health care facilities though – many offices and other work places have the same problem.

So what is fair? Should the people who are really hot be allowed to turn the a/c so high that others are shivering? Should those who get cold very easily keep the a/c turned low so it doesn’t get too cool?

Look at it this way: if you’re too cold, you can always bundle up. Wear a thicker pair of socks, a sweater, even an undershirt or camisole under your scrubs. But if you’re too hot, short of stripping to your underwear, there’s not a lot you can do about it, is there? We also know that overheating is dangerous and can lead to heat-related health problems. With heat often comes humidity, also related to health problems.

Of course, there’s even a better solution, or some people think. Have a centrally controlled temperature, say 72 degrees Fahrenheit, and make it so the thermostat can’t be changed by the people on the floors or units.

What do you think?

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Posted in On-the-Job Fears

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