Close this search box.

How Food Vendors & Hot Dog Carts Can Beat The Heat This Summer

Table of Contents

Sweltering summer days can be a challenge for food vendors and hot dog cart owners. According to OSHA, thousands of workers in the United States got sick from exposure to heat on the job, and more than 60 workers died in 2011 alone.

As a food vendor or hot dog cart owner, it is crucial to learn how to protect yourself from the heat. This is particularly true if ambient heat from your cooking station increases the temperatures you are exposed to.

To beat the heat you need these three essential things:

  • Water – Drink at minimum 4 cups of water every hour. It’s best to drink a small amount of water every 15 minutes.
  • Rest – Your core temperature needs at least 15 minutes to start dropping. Take breaks to help your body recover.
  • Shade – It’s best to find an air-conditioned room, but seek shade during your rest breaks to help you cool down.

Here are some additional tips to help you handle working outside this summer.


Food vendors and hot dog cart owners will have more trouble with the heat in early summer than they do in late summer. This is because your body will adapt to heat stress over time.

Be aware that different people will acclimate to the heat at different times. If you are relatively young, healthy, and in great shape, you will likely be able to acclimate within 14 days.

To adapt to the heat, begin by gradually spending more time outside, increasing your time in the heat to 100 minutes over the next four to ten days. Allow for more frequent breaks during your first few weeks on the job.


The heat index is how hot your vending location really feels as the relative humidity rises. You can gauge your risk of heat exposure on any given day and take extra precautions when the heat index rises.

Download the Heat Safety Tool from OSHA and input the location you plan to vend from. Both English and Spanish versions are available for Android and iPhone users.

It’s important to keep in mind that if you are vending in full sunlight, the heat index values will be increased by 15°F.


Heat islands develop where there are no green spaces. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, roofs and pavement in developed areas can reach temperatures from 50 to 90 F higher than the air temperature.

As you set up your food stand or hot dog cart, search for any patch of green and try to find some trees to give you shade. Not only will the trees block the sun, they will give you an evaporative cooling effect.


If you experience any signs of heat-related illness, act quickly and don’t ignore your symptoms. The following are symptoms of heat illness according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):

  • Sunburn: Redness and pain of your skin. In severe cases, your skin may swell, you may develop blisters, fever, and headaches.
    • Remove yourself from direct sunlight
    • Apply ointment for mild cases
    • if blisters appear and do not break If blisters break, apply dry sterile dressing
    • Avoid by wearing sunblock of at least 50 spf
  • Heat Cramps: Painful spasms usually in the muscles of legs and abdomen with heavy sweating.
    • Move to a cool, shady, or airconditioned area
    • Loosen clothing
    • Apply firm pressure on cramping muscles or gentle massage to relieve spasm
    • Sip water, unless you become nauseated
  • Heat Exhaustion: Heavy sweating; weakness; cold, pale, clammy skin; thready pulse; fainting and vomiting; seizures; might have normal temperature.
    • Move to a cool, shady, or airconditioned area
    • Lay down and loosen clothing Apply cool, wet cloths
    • Fan with air
    • Sip water, unless you become nauseated
    • If vomiting, seek immediate medical attention Heat
  • Stroke/Sunstroke: High body temperature (106 F or higher); hot, dry skin; rapid and strong pulse; possible unconsciousness. Heat stroke is a severe medical emergency.
    • Call 911 or get to a hospital immediately
    • While waiting for emergency assistance, move to a cool, shady, or airconditioned area
    • Reduce body temperature with a cold bath or sponging.
    • Use extreme caution.
    • Remove clothing, use fans and air conditions.
    • If temperature rises again, repeat process. Do NOT give fluids People on salt-restricted diets should consult a physician before increasing their salt intake.


OSHA suggests that outdoor workers, including food vendors and hot dog carts, take these additional steps to prevent heat illnesses:

  • Report symptoms of heat illness right away
  • Wear light-colored cotton clothing
  • Wear a hat Wear sunscreen to prevent sunburn

Know where you are working in case you need to call 911.

In addition to the above, you can also:

  • Increase your physical fitness – this helps you acclimate and tolerate heat exposure
  • Stay hydrated – avoid sugary drinks, caffeine, and alcohol
  • Cool down quickly by plunging your arms into cold water up to your elbows – your forearms have a large surface to area volume ratio and this will effectively pull heat out of your body
  • Make your own shade – use a large umbrella and add a fan or mister
  • Keep a cooler of ice water and dip rags into it frequently and place around your neck


Are you a seasoned food vendor or hot dog cart owner? What are your favorite ways to beat the heat? Share with us in the comments.

We hope this list helps you stay safe. FLIP was created to help food vendors and hot dog carts protect their business and their career. To learn more about vendor liability insurance visit us here

*All insurance policies have conditions, limitations, and exclusions, please refer to the policy for exact coverages.


Lyndsey Larsen is the Marketing Manager and writes about business, marketing, entrepreneurship, and insurance.

Lyndsey Larsen is an experienced writer with a background in corporate communications nonprofits, SAAS corporations, and nutraceutical companies. She has previously worked as a journalist for regional and national publications. In her spare time, she enjoys chasing butterflies, rockhounding, and spending time with her two kids in Utah’s mountains or deserts. Find Lyndsey on LinkedIn.

Get Covered With
Small Business Insurance
Monthly Prices Starting at