Work goes on in Elizabethtown … despite near-record heat

By Chrysta Carroll -

ELIZABETHTOWN — With temperatures approaching record marks this week and heat indices topping the three-digit threshhold, most people heeded weather forecasters’ advice to stay inside as much as possible. For an undoubtedly beleaguered segment of the population, however, getting work done and staying near the A/C are mutually exclusive.

“It’s hot out here,” said Tony Bright, removing his hat and wiping sweat from his brow in Thursday’s 97-degree heat. Bright is owner of Affordable Roofing & Home Repair and was out with his crew putting a new roof on the Elizabethtown Inn’s garage.

“We try to come as early as possible, and we like to knock off around 2 o’clock, then come back around 6:30 and work until dark. That time — right before the sun sets — is the best time to work,” he said.

The dog days of summer in the south, though accompanied by longer daylight hours, take a negative toll on productivity, as attested to by DeVane Builders owner Charles DeVane.

“Of course, you can’t work as hard as you normally do and can’t work as long without breaks, and you need longer breaks,” he said.

Fellow roofer Timothy Jones, of Jones Roofing, said the heat’s effects don’t stop when they close shop for the day, however.

“The heat just takes the body’s energy,” he said. “We’re drained completely and so tired at the end of the day.”

Jones said that to combat the oppressive heat, he and his brother, who is also his co-worker, take breaks every 30 minutes or so and try to maintain the practice of putting back four or five ounces of fluid — water or an electrolyte-loaded drink, never soda — back into their bodies for every ounce of fluid lost through perspiration. He also said that acclamation is key.

“My advice for people in the heat,” he said, “is to get up early and get used to the heat gradually, as the day naturally warms. The gradual transition makes it easier than just walking outside later and being hit all at once.”

Bright, DeVane and Jones all stated that, while the heat may slightly lower productivity, it doesn’t preclude it.

“We have to accept that we’re not going to get as much done, but we’ll still work, and we take whatever weather the Lord sends us,” said DeVane.

While roofers and construction workers may be the first to come to mind and receive sympathy when the mercury rises, a quick tour around Elizabethtown on Thursday also found public works employees repairing a water line, a phone company employee in an elevated bucket fixing phone lines, mail carriers in their confined spaces with windows down, and numerous landscapers trying to protect themselves with floppy, wide-brimmed hats.

“It’ll be nice when it cools down,” said Century Link employee Wesley Starlin. “Seventy-five degrees sounds really good right about now.”

After a “cooling off” to around 90 for the weekend and early part of the week, AccuWeather said temperatures will be approaching 100 again on Thursday.

Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.

By Chrysta Carroll

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