Farmers: Stay Cool in Hot Weather

Heat Safety Tips for Farmers Working in High Temperatures

Russ Quinn
By  Russ Quinn , DTN Staff Reporter
Connect with Russ:
Farmers working in high temperatures need to follow heat safety recommendations to avoid heat stress illnesses. (DTN/Progressive Farmer file photo)

OMAHA (DTN) -- The hot weather is only beginning this summer in some areas, and farmers should make sure they are safe in high temperatures. Wearing lightweight clothing, taking frequent breaks in the shade and drinking plenty of water are keys to avoiding heat illnesses.

Failure to heed these warnings could lead to heat stress and heat stroke. A certain percentage of people die from heat stroke, according to experts.


Tawnie Larson, a project consultant in Kansas State University's (KSU) Carl and Melinda Helwig Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, advised farmers to follow heat safety tips. Not following these guidelines might lead some to feel summer heat's impact, according to a KSU news release (…).

The first recommendation is to wear appropriate clothing when working outside. Wearing lightweight clothing that is light-colored and long-sleeved would be best, she said.

Also, use a cooling vest, Larson said. Cooling vests are designed to keep the core body temperature lower, preventing heat exhaustion and other negative effects when becoming overheated.

"The vest uses specialized fabric and fibers to circulate cooling products to keep body temperature low during hot days," Larson said.

Taking frequent breaks in shaded areas while working in the sun also is important to stay safe in hot conditions. Everyone's body reacts differently to heat, so some people might have to take more frequent breaks than others, she said.

Avoid working in the hottest part of the day, which is between 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., she added.

Larson suggested farmers use equipment with a sunshade canopy, such as a rollover protection structure (ROPS). The ROPS canopy cannot be folded down, which allows protection for equipment operators.


Drinking plenty of water is another key to staying cool while working in the summer heat.

The Carle Foundation Hospital Center for Rural Health and Farm Safety suggests drinking different amounts of water at different temperatures to stay hydrated. (…)

If the outside temperature or heat index is up to 102 degrees Fahrenheit, you should drink a minimum of a half pint of water every 30 minutes. From 103 to 106 degrees, you should drink a minimum of half a pint of water every 15 minutes. From 107 to 112 degrees, you should drink a minimum of half a pint every 10 minutes.

"Encourage employees to take a break and get water," the Carle report said. "If you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated. However, after a certain point, you lose your sense of thirst and are in very serious danger."

Drink water and not soda, tea or coffee. Soda contains sodium and can speed up dehydration. Coffee and tea contain diuretics and speed up water loss.


The Carle report said heat stress is a group of heat-related illnesses in which the body has an elevated core temperature with symptoms ranging from general discomfort to heat stroke. This occurs in three phases:

1. Heat cramps in the legs and abdomen -- treat these as warning signs and get some water and rest. Normal/slightly elevated temperature with moist/cool skin.

2. Heat exhaustion is more severe with water depletion and intense thirst. If accompanying salt depletion, you will not be thirsty. Temperature will still be normal/slightly elevated.

3. Heat stroke should be treated as a medical emergency. More than 20% of people who suffer from heat stroke will die as organs stop functioning properly.

Keep an eye out for fatigue, dry skin, headaches, dizziness, muscle weakness, nausea, confusion, loss of coordination, fainting and collapse if core temperature is over 104 F.

Russ Quinn can be reached at

Follow him on social platform X @RussQuinnDTN

Russ Quinn