Depending on where in the country you operate in the field, summer heat has either already begun to arrive, or it is just a calendar page flip away.
Spending days under the blazing sun and blanketed with humidity while appraising damage to vehicles, specialty equipment, and properties can be difficult. It can also be dangerous if not properly mitigated.
With the nation’s largest managed network of independent appraisers at SCA’s disposal, we reached out to a few of our experts to glean their most effective tips for staying cool and beating the heat.
Somebody who knows a little something about sizzling summer temperatures is Erik Clayton, an SCA franchise owner from Texas.
“On hot days, you have to wear light-colored polos,” says Clayton. “And make sure they’re not expensive!”
He also advocates for keeping the air conditioning running in the car even while performing your appraisal work outside of it.
SCA Franchise Owner Koby Hearn from Minnesota is the other end of the spectrum. While the Land of 10,000 Lakes experiences fewer hotter months overall, it does get hot and humid come summertime. And when those days come, Hearn is prepared.
“I always pack a YETI cooler with my lunch, but more importantly, it has a super cold ice pack where I keep a wet ‘stay cool’ towel to drape around my neck while I’m out inspecting,” says Hearn.
Like Clayton, short sleeves are a must for Hearn, who pairs it with a cowboy hat – his signature piece representing his born-and-bred southern roots. Hearn also leaves his car running to keep it frosty in contrast to the sweltering summer air.
“To be completely honest, I probably get the most sun through my truck windows,” muses Hearn. “I typically inspect a vehicle within 20 minutes or less, but specialty vehicles may take 30 to 45 minutes, so I really am not out in the heat long. And I typically freeze myself out of the truck, so the burst of heat feels pretty good. By the time I start to bead sweat, I am hopping back into the truck and on my way to the next claim.”
Another essential tip both Clayton and Hearn can agree on – staying hydrated. Both keep coolers fully stocked with liquid refreshments to help get them through the day. Water, soda, iced tea, and lemonade are all popular options.
But proper hydration only takes you so far. The active field appraiser also needs to keep gas both in their vehicle’s tank and their own.
Clayton and Hearn recommend keeping your energy up on a busy day where the sun is actively sapping it. Sandwiches, granola bars, peanut butter crackers, and other snacks high in protein are all suggested solutions.
“Every once in a while, my wife surprises me with a couple cookies or other baked goods,” Hearn says.
No matter where an appraiser’s territory may be, proper self-care in high heat is integral to their health and safety while also ensuring they can consistently perform their duties at the optimal level.
Here are some other useful tips to help appraisers survive the summer heat:
- Park in the shade if possible
- Begin by photographing the exterior of the vehicle, and while doing so, open two doors (or windows), if possible, to create cross-ventilation
- Pavement gets hot too! Have something like a padded board or another barrier available in case you need to look under a vehicle or behind a wheel
- Golf umbrellas are an excellent tool for shielding yourself from the sun’s damaging rays while walking a tow lot
- Eat smaller but more frequent meals, and drink smaller amounts of water more frequently
- Avoid caffeine or large amounts of sugar, as they can dehydrate you. Instead, add beverages with electrolytes, such as sports drinks, to replenish important nutrients lost from sweating
“Other than that, in Texas heat, there is not really much you can do,” confesses Clayton.
“My solution to the heat?” adds Hearn. “Stay out of it!”