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In Hagerstown, outdoor workers try to beat record heat

July 07, 2010|By EBONI JAGGERS
  • Daniel McAuliffe, a flag man with Labor Ready in Hagerstown, used a cardboard ring around his hard hat to help shade himself from the sun Wednesday afternoon while flagging cars along Pennsylvania Avenue near Fountain Head. Road crews are replacing a gas line in that area this week.
By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer,

o Air quality alert in effect for Hagerstown

Roderick Miles might have chosen the worst month of the year to begin work at the Baltimore Street Station car wash in Hagerstown.

Like many other residents, his job doesn't take him out of the heat --it forces him into it.

While working in Tuesday's record-breaking heat, Miles, 39, said he began to suffer from what felt like symptoms of heat exhaustion.

"It was hot, and, at times, I got a little woozy and tried to drink a lot of water," he said.

The temperature in Hagerstown reached 101.7 degrees at 3:57 p.m., according to weather observer Greg Keefer's website at i4weather.net.

Rounded up to 102 degrees, the temperature tied a record for July 7, set in 1988. It was the second straight day the temperature in the city tied a record, Keefer's records show.

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Tuesday's high temperature was 100 degrees. The last time the temperature in Hagerstown reached 100 degrees on consecutive days was Aug. 2 and 3, 1991, according to Keefer's records.

The heat index reached a high of 105 degrees at 2:23 p.m., according to the website.

Miles said he began his day at the car wash at about 9 a.m. Wednesday and was hoping to beat the afternoon heat by heading home before the weather took its toll.

Eric Webber, a maintenence worker for Hagerstown's Department of Public Works, agreed that Miles had the right idea.

Webber, 51, understood the importance of getting the work day's largest projects done during the sun's less-intense hours.

Webber said he tries to get his most strenuous jobs laying concrete done before 2 and 3 p.m., what he believes is the hottest part of the day.

"We push harder in the morning than the afternoon and try to work smart," he said. "We try to pick (work areas) that are shadier this time of year, but it didn't work out in this particular situation."

Webber said he has worked for the Department of Public Works for the past 11 years and has learned to drink plenty of water, especially during the hot month of July.

Brian Lloyd, a driver and delivery person for U.S. Foodservice, offered a different perspective on coping with the heat.

"Honestly, I just think back to what it was like in February," Lloyd said.

Lloyd, 47, said he tries to find shade when making deliveries in the heat.

"You have to have the mind-set and know that you're going to be in (the heat) and make provisions from there," LLoyd said.

Thursday's forecast from the National Weather Service is for a high near 95 degrees. The record high for July 8 in Hagerstown is 99 degrees, set in 1988, according to Keefer's records.




Staying cool in the heat



Rod MacRae, public information officer with the Washington County Health Department, offered the following advice for dealing with the heat:

o Stay away from products that could cause a depletion in water supply, such as caffeinated and alcoholic beverages.

o Outside workers should drink sports beverages to replace minerals that are lost while working.

o Avoid going out during midday, which tends to be the hottest part of the day.

o Wear light-colored, loose-fitting clothing if possible.

o If the heat becomes too extreme, move to a cooler area.

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