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Outdoor workers take extra steps to stay safe in dangerous heat

Updated: Jun. 17, 2021 at 4:51 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - While triple-digit heat isn’t new to Kansas, it’s usually not expected until later in June or early July. The summer heat isn’t coming by surprise, but it still takes extra effort for outdoor workers to stay safe. On Thursday, the first 100-degree day for the Wichita area since last August, Eyewitness News spoke with a handful of people working outside, including food-truck workers and roofers.

At the U-Hungry Food Truck in downtown Wichita, owner Arturo Ray said the keys to keeping cool include drinking plenty of water and running " a bunch of fans” in the truck.

There’s an added challenge for roofers who don’t have the benefit of fans or shade protection from shingles, working in direct sunlight.

“Darker shingles are going to absorb more light, a lot more sun. You have temperatures on a black roof, it could be up to 160 degrees Fahrenheit,” said Keeter Roofing and Remodeling Operations Manager Gavin Maloney.

Since the shingles are asphalt, the heat also makes them more malleable and workers have to be extra careful not to damage them.

“Something as simple as dragging your had across it could hinder it and hurt the livelihood of the product,” Maloney said.

For their own safety, roofers with Keeter have been getting early starts each day to beat the heat.

“You want to start as early as you can, avoid the high heat of day,” Maloney said. “That goes for anyone doing a project.”

Even with starts well before the hottest parts of the day, he said frequent water breaks in the shade or in the truck with the air conditioner on are important for workers to stay healthy.

“You can never be hydrated enough,” Maloney said.

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