Road crews deal with extreme heat

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - While many people flocking towards the air-conditioning, shade or pool in the triple-digit weather, hundreds of Lowcountry workers didn't have that luxury. Road crews are taking extra precautions while they work beneath the hot sun.

"It's hot now. I have seen it hotter. This week is supposed to be the hottest week we've had," said worker Henry Brailey.

The US Group Inc. is in charge of the Interstate 26 widening project and sends communication specialist Earl Capps out to sites daily to check on crews and make sure they are staying healthy in the heat.

"I'm out here talking to the guys 'are you being careful? Are you drinking enough? Are you watching your co-workers?' A lot of times people are in denial about heat exhaustion," Capps said.

Workers have access to plenty of ice. They bring gallons of water and other fluids on site to drink, and they take frequent breaks. Capps says both day and night, the temperatures can be extreme.

"These surfaces absorb heat all day long. When it's 90 degrees, right here it can be 100 plus, so you can add 10-20 degrees," Capps said. "We do a lot of work at night because it's safer. Even then with these temperatures and our asphalt paving, it is almost 400 degrees. You put that out there it can be hotter than daytime."

Additionally, workers practice a buddy system to look for heat-related illness symptoms in fellow employees such as sweating, paleness, weakness, nausea or dizziness.

At 74 years old, Henry Brailey falls into the category of people more prone to heat stress, but he feels confident he and his co-workers are very safety-minded in the extreme heat.

"We watch one another like a family out here. What we call us group, this department, down south in the Lowcountry, we work together, and try to keep everything safe as possible," Brailey said.

Some tips from medical experts at Trident Health System:

  • Avoid strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day, 10 4 p.m.
  • Drink plenty of water before, during, and after you are active.
  • Sports drinks can help replace sugar, sodium, and other nutrients.

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