The month of July has been unseasonably wet and cool this year, particularly in comparison to recent years. But it still gets hot and there are still people that make their living working outdoors.
To ensure employees remain safe during the dog days of summer, Ardmore has a number of safeguards in place designed to both educate and protect employees.
Karen Vaughn, Safety, Health and Risk Manager, said the city has had few problems with heat related illness and cited a number of factors.
"I think it's because people are acclimated to the weather, they are out there 24/7," she said. "They are all adults and we rely on them to tell the supervisors when they need a break. They will have extra breaks in the summer and at times, they will adjust their schedule."
Parks and Recreation Director Kevin Boatright said hours are adjusted in the department allowing employees to have the majority of their work done before the day is hottest.
"We have a lot of maintenance workers that come in earlier to work," he said. "If they usually come in at 8 a.m., they may come in at 7 a.m. or in some cases, earlier than that."
Hydration is also a key for employees. Vaughn said most departments have water and Gatorade for employees, which are encouraged to drink plenty of fluids. Each department has its own set of challenges as first responder needs may come in spurts while the parks and rec and street departments are in the sun continually throughout the day.
"We tell the officers to be sure and stay hydrated," Interim Police Chief Kevin Norris said. "We don't want they to stay out of the heat if at all possible. If they are working an accident, we want them to cool off as soon as possible."
First responders are tasked with wearing extra equipment, which makes them susceptible to heat related stress. For officers, each one wears a vest.
"Vests retain the body heat and makes it feel hotter than what it is and standing on the asphalt is hot," Norris said. "If they are on scene for an extended period of time, we can call emergency services which will bring liquids on the scene to help out."
Vaughn also keeps departments up to date with heat related stress issues with fact sheets that are distributed to the departments, which also play a role in safety. Boatright said there have been a couple of instances where heat has had an impact. In those instances, the department responded and a serious problem was averted.
"We have always instructed our workers if they start to feel bad, they should report it to their supervisor," he said. "We have had it happen several times and we got them out of the heat."
Boatright also said there are tried and true methods that can be used by employees for protection from the sun.
"Having a large brimmed hat is also very important," he said. "We have someone that has a hat that looks like a sombrero and it helps."