Working in Florida's film industry can be a rewarding experience, but it also comes with unique challenges, especially when dealing with heat and humidity. Heat-related illnesses are a serious concern, and heat stroke, in particular, can be deadly. When filming outdoors in environments where air conditioning may be limited, it's crucial to prioritize the safety and well-being of our cast and crew by being aware of warning signs, preventive measures, and appropriate treatment for heat-related illnesses.
Magnitude of Heat Related Risk
Over the past decade, Florida has experienced a notable number of heat-related illnesses leading to hospitalizations and deaths. The data from the CDC between 2011 to 2020 shows an average of approximately 5,150 hospitalizations and 26 deaths per year due to heat-related conditions. These statistics serve as a stark reminder of the importance of heat-related illness awareness and prevention, particularly for those working in outdoor settings, such as the film industry.
Understanding the Risks and Taking Precautions
As the film industry involves working in ever-changing environments, it is crucial to recognize the potential dangers of lightning strikes while filming on exterior locations. This bulletin addresses safety considerations when exposed to heat.
Download a PDF of CSATF Safety Bulletin #35
Building Heat Tolerance
The Process of Heat Acclimatization The Gulf Region's warm and hot environments demand that individuals build a tolerance to heat gradually over time. This process is known as heat acclimatization. Heat acclimatization allows the body to adapt to higher temperatures and reduces the risk of heat-related illnesses. It is important to note that most outdoor heat-related fatalities (50% to 70%) occur within the first few days of working in warm or hot environments, primarily due to the lack of acclimatization.
Monitoring Heat-Related Factors
While there are no specific cutoff temperatures defined by governing bodies, it is crucial to monitor several factors when determining the safety of cast and crew in high-temperature conditions:
- Workload: Pay attention to the level of physical exertion during filming.
- Rest Periods: Take sufficient breaks in shaded areas to rest and cool down.
- Air Flow: Seek areas with good ventilation or air conditioning to stay cool.
- Shade Availability: Find and utilize shaded areas to avoid direct sunlight.
- Hydration: Stay mindful of your water intake to maintain proper hydration.
Preventive Measures for Production
To safeguard against heat-related illnesses, the production should think to implement the following preventive measures:
- Periodic Breaks: Build periodic breaks for water, rest, and shade into the production schedule during high-heat conditions.
- Buddy System: Encourage the use of a buddy system, where cast and crew members look out for each other's well-being.
- Access to Cool Water: Make cool water (lower than 59°F) readily available on set at all times.
- Monitoring Weather Conditions: Stay informed about weather forecasts and extreme heat warnings. When high temperatures are anticipated, take extra precautions and prepare crew and cast accordingly.
- Indoor Locations: Consider scheduling interior scenes on days when the threat of high temperatures is looming. Filming indoors provides a safer and more controlled environment during extreme heat conditions.
Preventive Measures for Crew
Individuals can also take important steps to ensure their own safety while working in high-temperature conditions. Here are some preventive measures for cast and crew members to follow:
- Hydration: Drink plenty of water throughout the entire work shift. Aim for a minimum of 1 quart (four 8-oz cups) per hour, even if you don't feel thirsty. Avoid substituting soft drinks and coffee for water. Staying well-hydrated is crucial for preventing heat-related illnesses.
- Proper Clothing: Wear appropriate work clothes, including light-colored, loose-fitting long-sleeved shirts and pants. Consider wearing UV sunglasses or other protective equipment to shield yourself from the sun's rays.
- Hats and Sunscreen: Protect yourself from direct sunlight by wearing a wide-brimmed hat. Use sunscreen or sunblock and reapply as needed to shield your skin from harmful UV rays.
- Cool Down Under Cover: Seek out cool resting places away from direct sunlight or other heat sources when you feel overheated or in need of cooling down. Well-ventilated areas offer relief from excessive heat.
- Light Meals: Opt for light meals that do not add heat to the body. Heavy, hot meals can exacerbate the effects of working in high temperatures.
Water vs. Soda and Sports Drinks: Making the Right Hydration Choices
Proper hydration is crucial when working in high-temperature conditions to prevent heat-related illnesses. While staying hydrated is essential, it's equally important to make the right choices when it comes to the beverages you consume during filming in the Gulf Region.
- Water: The Best Choice for Hydration Water is nature's ultimate hydrator and the most effective way to replenish fluids lost through sweating. It is readily absorbed by the body, helping to regulate body temperature and keep you adequately hydrated. Drinking water during breaks and throughout the day is the best way to maintain optimal hydration levels, ensuring you stay focused and energized during filming.
- Soda and High-Sugar Beverages: Not Suitable for Hydration Sodas and high-sugar beverages may be tempting, especially in hot weather, but they are not ideal for staying hydrated. These drinks often contain excessive amounts of sugar, which can lead to a rapid increase in blood sugar levels. This quick energy boost is usually followed by a crash, leaving you feeling more fatigued and dehydrated.
- Sports Drinks: Designed for Intense Physical Activity Sports drinks like Gatorade are formulated for athletes engaged in prolonged and intense physical activity. They contain electrolytes and carbohydrates, which help replenish nutrients lost during extended periods of exercise. However, for the average person working on a film set, water is typically sufficient for maintaining electrolyte balance during regular activities.
- Caffeinated and Diuretic Beverages: Dehydration Risks Caffeinated beverages, like coffee and energy drinks, as well as diuretics like tea, can have a diuretic effect, leading to increased urine production and fluid loss. These beverages may contribute to dehydration, which is particularly concerning in hot and humid conditions.
Remember, staying properly hydrated with water is key to preventing heat-related illnesses. While sodas, sports drinks, and other high-sugar beverages might seem appealing, they do not provide the same level of hydration as water. To stay safe and perform at your best during filming, prioritize water consumption and make it your go-to choice for staying hydrated on set. Encourage your fellow cast and crew members to do the same to ensure a productive and safe work environment in the heat.
Recognizing Heat-Related Illnesses and First Aid
Heat-related illnesses can manifest in various forms, ranging from mild discomfort to severe conditions like heat stroke. It's crucial for everyone involved in the production to recognize the warning signs and respond promptly. Some common heat-related illnesses include:
- Heat Exhaustion: Symptoms may include heavy sweating, weakness, dizziness, nausea, headache, and clammy skin. Move the affected individual to a cooler area, provide cool water, and encourage rest.
- Heat Stroke: A life-threatening condition characterized by high body temperature, confusion, hot and dry skin, and unconsciousness. Heat stroke requires immediate medical attention. Call emergency services and begin cooling the person with cold water until help arrives.
Florida's film industry provides unique opportunities, but it also demands awareness and preparedness to tackle heat-related challenges. By building heat tolerance gradually, implementing preventive measures, and promptly responding to heat-related illnesses, we can ensure a safe and enjoyable working environment for all cast and crew members. Prioritizing safety and health will contribute to successful and productive film productions in Florida.
For further information and guidance on heat-related illnesses and safety measures, you can refer to the following resources:
- OSHA Heat Safety: https://www.osha.gov/heat/
- NWS Heat Safety: https://www.weather.gov/safety/heat-illness
- CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/pdf/Heat_Related_Illness.pdf