Outdoor workers sweat through summer's swelter
Posted August 12, 2010
Durham, N.C. — For roofers, emergency personnel and others who must work outside the air-conditioned comfort of a cubicle, the weather is the ultimate boss on hot August afternoons.
The heat sets the schedule, and those who don't respect it can end up on a stretcher.
Jeffrey Hammerstein was among members of the Wake County Emergency Management Service working through an emergency training drill Thursday at Raleigh-Durham International Airport.
Firefighters, paramedics and National Guard troops sweated through the two-hour drill.
"It's definitely hot enough," Hammerstein said. "We can stand more. We're prepared, so if it gets hot, we'll roll with it."
Compared to the heat of battling a fire, Capt. Todd Lewis of Morrisville Fire Department said, the exercise was almost a breeze.
Firefighters got to wear T-shirts. When they are bulked up in uniform, Lewis said, "We just work short durations at a time, and we make sure we have a rehab unit set up in place."
Those who know the heat are careful to take breaks and stay hydrated.
"A lot of water, a lot of Gatorade," said Larry Walls, a roofer.
Walls tries to avoid working during the hottest part of the day.
"About 1 or 2 o'clock, we're trying to be off the roof," he said. He and his crews from Walls Roofing in Raleigh begin their work day as early as 5:30 a.m., he said, "if the neighbors don't mind."
His work in the morning hours left him with blisters on his feet, right through his shoes.
"I've learned that thick-soled tennis shoes work very well," he said.
"If it's 100 degrees out here, and you've got a heat index of 105, 110, it's probably 130, 140 degrees up on the roof," he said.