June 20, 2006 - Posted at 4:14 p.m. CST
JONESBORO, AR -- If you haven't stepped outside recently, don't. It has been one of the hottest days of the year here in Region 8. High temps and high humidity meant high heat indices.
With the heat index exceeding 100° across Region 8, it was a long day for workers who make their living under the sun.
"It's difficult to stay up there a lot of times, but we got to get the job done so we stay up there," said roofer Jimmy Bailey.
Bailey works for Jonesboro Roofing and on Tuesday his crew spent the day putting tin roofing on ASU's new Alumni Center. The combination of the black felt and metal roofing is the equation for nearly unbearable heat.
"The ground temperature could be 97° but up there it is probably 110° to 120°," said Bailey.
When the temps get this high, the difference in a forecast of 90° or 95° is very small.
"Most of the time it has been hot so there is no use in checking the forecast because you know it is going to be hot," said Teresa Price who works in road construction, "If you are not used to it, you better stay inside."
A day when the weather is warmer than usual, the temperature will actually dictate the workers schedule. Instead of working a 10 hour day, workers will only work a nine hour day to avoid some of the excess heat. Doctors agree the summer months are primetime for heat exhaustion.
"As the heat index gets above 105°-110° we see a sharp increase in the number of heat related illnesses," said Dr. Walter Short of St. Bernards Emergency Room. If you have to be outside pay attention to possible warning signs that you are overheating.
"Confusion, possibly fatigue, dry mouth, those are all things we can see," said Short.
The best way to beat the heat is to stay hydrated. While the average person is recommended to drink eight glasses of water, the workers we spoke with drink much more.
"I drink probably two to three gallons a day," said Bailey.
In addition, the clothes you wear while out in the heat can make a difference.
"Light colored clothing, loss fitting clothing that allows circulation over our skin," said Bailey.
More than anything else, doctors encourage you to use common sense, but for the outdoor workers of Region 8, the end of the day can't come soon enough.