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Living with the heat

Staying hydrated, using common sense is the key

Staying hydrated, using common sense is the key

July 10, 2007|By CATHERINE SUDUE

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Monday's sweltering heat did not bring the everyday life of Washington County residents to a halt.

According to weather observer Greg Keefer's Web site - www.i4weather.net - the day's high temperature was 97.5 degrees, making it the hottest day of the year.

How did workers and business owners cope with the searing heat? By taking breaks on the job, staying in an air-conditioned or shady area and drinking lots of water.

"You've got to use common sense," said Art Cordell, who was doing on-site construction for an AC&T gas station.

As Cordell stood in his hard hat, denim jeans and construction boots, he explained his experience working outside in the heat while on the blacktop road.

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"Blacktop radiates the sun and the heat," said Cordell. "When it's 100 (degrees) out here, it's probably 140 down there."

Brandon Jones knows all about construction work in the sun. Beyond the orange, diamond-shaped sign that read "Utility Work Ahead" stood Jones, two co-workers and a backhoe.

Jones, working for Northern Pipeline Construction, was on Summit Avenue, where part of the road had been dug up. He was replacing gas line in nearly 100-degree weather.

Nearby was a yellow Igloo cooler filled with five gallons of drinking water.

"We try to stay hydrated," Jones said. "You take breaks when you need to."

Staying hydrated is a policy for the Hagerstown Fire Department Engine 2. Water coolers are supplied for the firefighters and ambulance crew so they remain hydrated as they are sent out on calls in the summer sun.

"They want us to drink eight glasses of water a day," said Glenn Fuscsick, an engine operator. "We are encouraged not to drink caffeine beverages."

Fuscsick explained that on hot days, exhaustion is prevalent for firefighters.

"Considering that our equipment weighs 80 pounds, there's an incredible fatigue factor," he said. After an assignment, "when you come out (of a building or house), there's nothing to cool you off," he said.

Fuscsick said many heat- or fire-related disasters of the summer are caused by discarded cigarettes on mulch or grass.

Some people tend to undersize their extension circuits, he said. The linkage of air conditioners and several electrical sources to an extension is a cause for undersized circuits, he said.

One of the tasks for Louise Crain, owner of Courtyard Caf in Hagerstown, is to keep things cool.

The caf and ice-cream shop owner said that on hot days, controlling the items within the store at a stable temperature is a major responsibility.

Ice cream has to be kept at 10 degrees or colder.

"The machines create so much heat, so we have to keep the air conditioner on high or else the ice cream will be mushy," Crain said.

On very hot days, she said, business is slow in her ice cream shop.

"People aren't out in the heat," she said.

The Washington County Commuter bus stop in front can help business, she said.

"When it's hot, people come inside and purchase ice cream," Crain said. "It keeps them cooled off."

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