Heat wave offers challenges for western Wisconsin workersWith heat warnings and temperatures rising to 90 degrees and higher, people who are active in the outdoors for work and recreational activities were taking precautions last week.
By: By Emily Miels, New Richmond News
With heat warnings and temperatures rising to 90 degrees and higher, people who are active in the outdoors for work and recreational activities were taking precautions last week.
“The first thing to do is to try and avoid long exposure to the heat, such as any time greater than one hour if possible,” said David DeGear, family practice doctor at the New Richmond Clinic and vice president of medical affairs at Westfields Hospital. “It’s is also smart to wear light-colored clothing, stay hydrated and stay indoors or in the shade if you don’t have to be outside. Plain water is still the best for hydration.”
Tom Derrick, vice president of Derrick Cos., said they try and find shade for their employees and schedule work during the early hours of the day to avoid the sun as much as possible.
“We try and find projects with shade for them, but it’s tough,” Derrick said.
Derrick said Derrick Cos. employees also wear long pants and wider brimmed hats at job sites to guard against the sun.
“You just have to protect yourself,” Derrick said.
Scott Cole, one of the golf professionals at the New Richmond Golf Course, said that he has seen an increase in members golfing earlier to evade the hottest parts of the day.
“What we’ve seen is that the people that are normally playing midday are playing early morning,” Cole said.
According to Cole, the golf club isn’t normally very busy in the morning, but they have been full during that time all week.
Josh Klinger, director of the New Richmond Softball Association, said he has also seen many teams using lighter colored uniforms to avoid trapping heat.
Keeping hydrated, particularly by drinking water, is also important when spending time outdoors.
“The major thing is to find shaded areas, like the dugout, and drink lots of water and Gatorade,” Klinger said.
Cole said they also encourage golf club employees to drink a lot of water and has seen an increase in members drinking water in comparison to alcoholic beverages and sports drinks.
According to DeGear, drinking four to six eight ounce glasses of water is normal, but those who are outside for extended periods should drink more.
“If exposed to prolonged heat with sweating, you will need to add four to five more glasses of water,” DeGear said. “If you know beforehand that you will be exposed to heat, make sure to hydrate prior to exposure as well.”
Derrick said that at Derrick Cos., they make an effort to teach the employees about the symptoms of heat stroke and allow them to take breaks and get water when necessary.
According to a state public health advisory, symptoms of heat-related illness include fainting, rashes, fatigue and nausea.
“The onset of heat stroke can be rapid and may progress to life threating illness within minutes,” the health advisory states.
Klinger has never canceled a softball game due to high temperatures, but warned not only the team but also the spectators need to be careful when spending an extended period of time outside.
“My wife just suffered heat exhaustion from being at the ballpark,” Klinger said.
Cole said that there have been no heat-related illnesses at the golf course this summer, but they have had incidents in the past.
Though he declined to give an exact number, DeGear said the hospital and clinic did see an increased number of patients suffering from a heat-related illness.
“We typically see an increase in patients any time the temperature climbs above 90 degrees or dew point above 70,” DeGear said.
DeGear said that those suffering from a heat-related illness should get out of the heat and seek help.
“The very first thing to do is to get out of the heat,” DeGear said. “Then hydrate orally with water or an electrolyte solution. If you are not improving rapidly, you should be seen by a health care provider as soon as possible.”
Public libraries, community centers, town halls and local shops provide air-conditioning for those who need to escape the heat.
DeGear also recommends wearing above a 50 SPF sunscreen, especially for children and fair-skinned adults.
“Apply every few hours, and more frequently if you will be going in and out of water or sweating due to physical activity,” DeGear said.
Overall, the community pushed through the hot temperatures and residents are still working hard and enjoying their favorite summer activities.
According to Cole, the heat has not slowed down golfers at the New Richmond Golf Course.
“As hot as it’s been, we’ve still been pretty busy,” Cole said.
Derrick said that working in the heat is all part of the job.
“That’s part of the construction business, you’re exposed to weather,” Derrick said.