Those who work outside take precautions during extreme heat
On Tuesday the National Weather Service issued a Heat Advisory for many parts of the Midwest, including Cloud County.
A Heat Advisory means that a period of extremely hot weather will be in the affected areas, which could result in health concerns for some people. Hot temperatures and high humidity can be a dangerous combination for the very young, the elderly, those without access to air conditioning, and outdoor laborers.
The warnings are nothing new for those who work outdoors. They have learned - sometimes they've learned the hard way - that precautions must be taken in the summer months.
Jeff Tholstrup, a foreman for the Kansas Gas Service, said it's important to take breaks and find some shade. "You've got to drink plenty of fluids. We try to start the day early so we can finish early before it gets really hot."
The heat danger for outdoor workers is very real. In the past, Tholstrup has seen workers overcome with heat exhaustion. "They got sick and just went down. You've got to be careful."
Jared Shuler, a letter carrier for the United States Postal Service, drinks at least a gallon of water and two bottles of Powerade a day. "We're out in it all day long, always on the move. You've got to stay hydrated. And wear a nice hat!"
At 3 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon, the heat index in Concordia was 110 degrees. The extreme conditions weren't a problem for Jim "Buster" Metro, a foreman with the Concordia Street Department. "I love it," he said as he did grading work at the Blosser Municipal Airport. "I like working in the heat. I'm an outdoors guy. I like all kinds of weather as long as it's outside. I can't stand being indoors."
Indoor work is not a relief for some occupations. For workers in manufacturing facilities like Concordia Technologies or Gerard Tank & Steel, it can be just as hot if not hotter inside their buildings. At the brick plant, in the LINGL Kiln building, the kiln operates at 2200 degrees, twenty-four hours a day.
When the heat index pushes over 100, perhaps the worst job of all is roofing. Jim Chartier has worked for Geisler Roofing & Home Improvement for over 30 years. "We were doing a job in Junction City last year on a brick building," he said. "Brick absorbs the heat and holds it. It was 148 degrees on that roof."
White tile roofs aren't as bad, because they reflect the heat. But working on a flat roof that is tarred black is brutal.
Chartier and his Geisler's crew returned at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday from a roofing job on the Homewood Suites Hotel in Salina. "There's no shade up on a roof," Chartier said. "You wear a hat, keep your neck covered, and try to start early so you can end early. I've learned that when my ears start ringing I need to get off that roof and take a break."
Rain on Wednesday brought cooler temperatures. But it seems certain that the Concordia area is not yet done with the kind of high heat and humid conditions that will warrant more heat advisories.