How can outdoor workers cope with the heat?
Construction workers are advised to check the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Heat Safety app on their phones to recognize the risk level associated with the temperature on hot days, said Kevin Keith, the safety director for Associated Builders and Contractors Keystone, a statewide trade association.
On days like Friday, during which the temperature is expected to reach 95 degrees, crews are advised to provide cool water and drinks with electrolytes to their workers, Keith said.
Contractors should also make a plan for helping a worker with heat exhaustion cool down and rehydrate or recognize the symptoms of heatstroke and take them to the hospital if necessary, he added.
Pennsylvania Department of Transportation provides outside workers a crew cab equipped with a jug of water with ice, according to a spokesperson for the agency. There are also neck shades available for hard hats, and crew leaders can rotate workers around the job site as needed to protect their health.
Firefighters should try to drink at least one bottle of water while en route to any calls, said a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Fire Commissioner. They should take frequent breaks during extreme heat and keep a close eye on fellow first responders for signs of heat-related illness.
Wearing nonsynthetic, breathable T-shirts and undergarments can help sweat evaporate, and firefighters should be aware that protective clothing or personal protective equipment may increase the risk of heat stress, the spokesperson said.
Outdoors workers at High Co., which includes steel, concrete and construction businesses, are encouraged to take more breaks and drink 5 to 7 ounces of water every 15 minutes, according to company protocol.
The company implements a 15-minute mandatory work rest every hour or less when the heat index reaches 103 degrees and stops work when it reaches 115.
The heat index measures how hot it feels when relative humidity is factored in with the actual air temperature, according to the National Weather Service. It is forecast to reach 109 degrees on Saturday.
What about vulnerable populations?
The Lancaster County Office of Aging will extend hours at senior centers around the county Thursday, Friday and Saturday as well as increase staffing to prepare for the heat wave, according to a press release.
“With the extremely high temperatures we are expecting to see, it’s important that we check on our older neighbors, friends and family members to make sure they are staying cool,” said Robert Torres, the secretary of the state Department of Aging, in a news release.
The state Department of Health recommends that those who have illnesses go somewhere where there is air conditioning, whether that is the local mall, library or other temperature-controlled locations, a news release said.
The Lancaster Recreation Commission is opening the Lancaster Rec Center in Lancaster city as a cooling center 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.
“We invite our neighbors to use our air conditioned lobby space and water fountains,” the commission said on Facebook.
Never leave infants or children in a parked car: Leaving a window open is not enough as temperatures inside the car can rise quickly, even with a window cracked open, according to a news release from Gov. Tom Wolf’s office.
Do not leave your pet in the car, either. If you notice anxiousness, excessive panting or excessive drooling, take your animal to the veterinarian immediately.
If you come across an animal suffering from heat stress and cannot get them to a veterinarian, move the animal to shade, offer them cool water to drink, and pour cool water over them, the Pet Pantry of Lancaster County said in a release.
Heavier, fattened livestock with dark coats or with chronic health conditions are at the greatest risk for stress from heat. Signs of stress in livestock can include animals bunching together, heavy panting and slobbering, according to the governor’s release.
What are the best ways to stay healthy in a heat wave?
Recent hot days have sent on average four people a day to UPMC Lititz’s emergency department, according to a hospital spokesperson.
WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital did not receive any heat-related admissions. Lancaster General Hospital could not immediately provide data.
Most heat-related illnesses can be prevented by keeping your body cool and avoiding dehydration, wrote Ryan Wennell, a physician at LGH, on the organization’s blog. Drink a few cups of water one to two hours before going outside, as well as during activity when thirsty.
According to eMedicine Health, one’s body starts to go through heat exhaustion usually after working or playing outside in a hot environment. Yet heat stroke can happen even if there are no evident signs of heat exhaustion.
When people experience heatstroke, they often have body temperatures that range between 104 and 106 degrees. At this temperature, the body cannot cool itself down by sweating.
If you experience fatigue, shortness of breath or nausea, get out of the heat immediately, Wennell wrote. If symptoms don’t begin to improve, call 9-1-1 and submerge in cold water.What are ways to save money while staying cool?
Consumers can save energy and money during extreme heat by setting their thermostat at 78 degrees and minimizing the use of heat-generating appliances like dishwashers and stoves during the warmest hours of the day, according to a release from PPL Electric Utilities.
Ceiling fans are economical and cost far less to use than air conditioners but should be used only in occupied rooms, the release said.