This heat is nothing to trifle with - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

This heat is nothing to trifle with

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July 22, 2005

Albany-- An estimated 400 people die every year from excessive heat, and thousands more suffer from heat-related illnesses which range from sunburn to heat stroke.

With soaring temperatures and a high heat index, today has felt like one of the hottest days of year. Right now the temperature has been hovering around 93º, but the heat index has made it feel a lot hotter. It's based on a combination of humidity and temperature, and today it has been around 105 and 107, making it dangerous for those who work outdoors.

A combination of blistering sun and unbearable heat, it's just a another day at work for this ATL Landscaping crew. "Just got to drink a lot of water. It may be 95, but it feels like 115 out here with the heat index," says Mark Howell.

Sometimes the workers spend eight to ten hours outside, making staying cool almost impossible. "As hot as it is there's no way you can keep yourself cool," says Aaron Ruiz.

"It just gets sticky and nasty and you get water, grass, everything. It's tough," says Howell. And the wind from ride-on lawnmowers and leaf blowers doesn't seem to help. "You get air but with all that dust it doesn't help anything."

So the guys use a combination of constant hydration and cool clothing to help them stay safe. "We've got a five gallon water chest. We go through about three of those a day," said Ruiz.

"I'm just wearing this because it helps me be a little bit cooler because if I wear the short sleeve it gets more sun on my skin, so I'm just trying to avoid the sun," says Howell.

They also take regular breaks. "There's quite a few times where it's just way too hot and you just have to keep cool," Ruiz said.

Even with the south Georgia heat the crew says they'd rather be landscaping than doing something else. "It's not that bad. I'd rather be doing this than laying asphalt on the side of the road. At least we're moving around and getting a little breeze,"said Ruiz.

The crew members also say they keep a close eye on each other and watch for any signs of heat exhaustion. If you have to be outdoors, you should also stay away from tight or dark, clothing when outside, stay in the shade or a cool place if possible, and drink plenty of water.

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