Valley outdoor workers feel the heat this week

VISALIA, Calif. (KFSN) -- Every year, Tulare County firefighters review their heat illness plan.

And every morning during the summer, crews spend some time outside, so they can acclimate to the triple-digit temperatures that come later in the day.

"But then we're also looking at rotating people out," said Tulare County Fire Captain Joanne Bear. "So as we have people that are working for a certain amount of time, we'll then rotate them out with fresh crews, so they have a chance to sit, cool down, rehydrate themselves, and be ready to go back into the fire."

Additionally, the department's two Light and Air units are always deployed to building fires.

They help keep firefighters cool and hydrated.

"With those units, they bring water, Gatorade, chairs, cooling chairs, shelters, mist fans," Bear said.

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Their uniforms may not be as heavy and hot as firefighters, but landscapers are also paying close attention to this week's triple-digit heat.

Rainscape's Billy Stevenson says they're starting their work at 6:30 a.m., so they can get home before the hottest part of the day.

"Just put (the AC) on about 70 and just pass out right after work," Stevenson said.

A properly functioning air conditioning unit is essential during the summer, and so are the technicians that service them.

So Owen McGee makes sure his employees are taking care of themselves in between shifts.

"I think the biggest thing is get plenty of rest, you know," McGee said. "Can't burn the candle at both ends."

At work, McGee says his employees drink lots of water and wear hats and cooling towels.

They're also wearing masks because of COVID-19, and that can be uncomfortable in the heat.

"Workers should have face coverings at all times, but they should be removed in outdoor high heat conditions to help prevent overheating as long as physical distancing can be maintained," Cal/OSHA said as part of a press release this week.
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