Commercial kitchens are typically very warm working environments, but they become even hotter during the summer months, resulting in an environment that could be detrimental to overall health and wellbeing. If you’re going to be working in a kitchen this summer, here are 4 simple tips for staying cool and keeping the temperatures at bay:
1. Dress for the Heat
Those working within certain positions within the kitchen may be able to swap out their standard uniform for a cooler summer alternative. A high quality short sleeve baker’s top, for example, should feature the same durable woven fabric as its long sleeve counterpart, but provides just a little less coverage for a cooler feel. And for those that must wear a full jacket, look for a CoolTex chef’s jacket which is made from a moisture wicking material which boost air circulation while drawing moisture away from the skin.
For anyone that isn’t able to wear a summer uniform in the kitchen, the trick to staying cool is accessorising the workwear that you already have. One of the best accessories is a cold (or even frozen) soft cloth that can be worn directly against the skin to draw out heat and bring the body temperature down. While the forehead is a good temperature trigger point, it can be difficult and dangerous to wear a cloth on the head, so the next best place is the back of the neck. Replace your cloth regularly.
3. Keep Things Clean
You’ll probably already have an extensive HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) system in your commercial kitchen, but these systems are only able to produce optimal results if they are properly maintained. The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) states that ‘mechanical ventilation systems should be maintained in efficient working order in accordance with the manufacturer’s/installer’s instructions’, so it’s a good idea to get the systems cleaned not only for performance purposes, but for legal compliance, too.
4. Take Regular Breaks
Taking regular breaks is essential for all kitchen staff at any time of the year. However, during the hot summer it is even more important to take a step back from the cooker and enjoy some cooler air. If it is safe and responsible to do so, taking a short break in a cooler or cool room is recommended as this can help to regulate your body temperature and make you feel cooler and more comfortable. Some businesses have even been known to hold team meetings in the cool room over the summer months!
Education is Key
While there are many different ways that you can help yourself to stay cool during the hotter months working in the kitchen, it’s not always possible to bring your temperature down to a completely comfortable level, especially during busy periods when you have less time to take breaks or grab a new cold cloth. That’s why proper education is key.
All kitchen employees should be trained to recognise the symptoms of heat-related illness so that they can not only identify warning signs in themselves, but in their team, too, helping to minimise conditions such as heat stroke and maintain good levels of health. Setting up a ‘hydration station’ — a centrally-located area with cold water — is one of the best things you can do during a hot summer, ensuring that all workers have easy access to drinks so that they can stay well hydrated during their kitchen shift.