Keeping it Cool and Safe on the Front Lines: Climate Control Tips for Pop-Up Healthcare Sites

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A primary responsibility for public health departments is dispensing vaccines and medications, especially in a crisis. During the COVID-19 pandemic, safety precautions have made drive-through and outdoor testing and vaccination smart options. As a result, many agencies and hospitals have set up tents and mobile clinics to serve the public.

In these environments, however, healthcare workers are fighting more than the virus. As spring and summer approach, with soaring temperatures and humidity across much of the country, heat indexes are on the rise. And air quality—even in relatively open environments—remains a concern.

But with the right strategies, we can create a comfortable and safe environment for healthcare workers while they do their best to keep the rest of us well.

Heat, humidity, and asphalt make conditions unbearable

The National Weather Service Heat Index chart shows how heat and temperature combine to produce misery. By summer, much of the country will be heading into the orange and red zones.

But even worse, organizations often select paved sites like parking lots for testing and vaccination. These dark surfaces absorb 72 to 82 percent of the sunlight that hits them, according to a study published by the Transportation Research Board. Sunlight changes into heat and creates sweltering conditions. On a 90°F day, the temperature on asphalt may rise as high as 140°F, according to Conservation Magazine.

Humidity plays a critical role also, not only in comfort but also in the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19. American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ (ASHRAE) research revealed that microorganisms are least likely to survive when the relative humidity is 40% to 60%—but in summer, much of the country falls above or below that range.

Although many frontline healthcare workers have been vaccinated, it’s also crucial to maintain a well-ventilated space with airflow from clean to less clean air. Improving air quality reduces the risk of disease transmission and illness for healthcare workers and patients, and supports the well-being of everyone using a space.

Preventing COVID-19 transmission remains critical

Sunbelt Rentals plays a key role in supporting health by providing equipment and solutions to maintain healthy temperatures, humidity levels, and air quality. We can help you set up portable air conditioners and evaporative cooling fans at any location for quick relief from uncomfortable conditions. We also offer high-efficiency HEPA filtration and air scrubbers to improve indoor air quality. To learn more about climate control at outdoor COVID-19 testing and vaccination sites, watch our video below.

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Sunbelt Rentals understands the challenges created by COVID-19 and can engineer a cost-effective, turnkey solution for you. You can trust that we will deliver the equipment needed on time and support you throughout the rental. If you'd like to learn more about Sunbelt Rentals's climate control and air quality control solutions, get a quote today or call us at 866-213-6143.


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