Summer Heat Can Become A Health Hazard - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

07/22/05

Summer Heat Can Become A Health Hazard

You know it's summer in South Mississippi when Mike Reader starts talking about "heat index" and "feels like" temperatures.

Late July typically ushers in some of the hottest weather of summer.

It's hot enough just watching a blacktop crew. Imagine being Mike Nielson, who spends the work day just inches away from the steaming asphalt.

"Yes sir, it's pretty hot," he said during a break in the blacktopping. "We drink plenty of water. That's about the only thing you can do out here." 

One batch of asphalt is actually the "cool layer."

"This is about 250 degrees and it usually gets up to about 375 or 380 on the other layers. This is a drainage layer so it's not as hot," Nielson explained.

A trusty umbrella gives Fred Franklin an added layer of protection.

"Yeah, wouldn't have it without it," said Franklin. 

As for the heat.

"Just gotta do it. Somebody's gotta do it," he said.

Some folks overdo it.

"In about the last two weeks, we've seen an increase in about 30 calls where there have been heat related emergencies," said Chris Cirillo with American Medical Response.

Summer's heat, left unchecked, can be a health hazard.

"You start off and you may experience heat cramps, flushing of the skin, muscle cramping, fatigue. And then it can lead to more serious conditions, including unconsciousness," Cirillo explained.

One of the most important tips to avoid heat related problems is to protect yourself from the sun, especially during the hottest part of the day. Even here on the beach, it's possible to find some relief from the heat of the afternoon under a beach umbrella.

Don't forget the water. Outdoor work crews know the importance of the good ole' water cooler.

"Can't work without it," said one such worker.

Think cool thoughts, but keep in mind it's a long summer in the Deep South.

AMR's Chris Cirillo says the elderly and young children suffer the most heat-related problems. During these hot days of summer, friends and family should be sure and check on those who may be vulnerable.

By Steve Phillips

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