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Staying Heat, Health Conscious

Heat-related deaths in Mississippi are notnearly as high as the temperatures get, but the risks that arisefrom the summer heat waves remain serious concerns for those whospend significant time outdoors.

    The high temperatures for Brookhaven this week have been steady inthe upper 90s with heat indexes pushing well into the 100s.According to health officials and weather experts, people need totake extra precaution at these times.

    This means people like Chuck Smith, who owns and operates a carwashand detailing service, are forced to make some changes as to howthey operate their businesses in the Brookhaven summers.

    Smith’s business, Blessins Car Wash & Detail on West CongressStreet, consists of a garage crowded with equipment and a smalloffice area, leaving very little indoor room for him and hisemployees to take breaks from the heat and humidity.

    “We take breaks in front of the fans,” he said, referring to twoindustrial-sized box fans he brought to his shop to help with heatprevention.

    Of course, fluid intake is vital as ever, he said.

    “We drink lots and lots and lots of Gatorade and juice,” Smithsaid. “You can’t get enough.”

    Smith explained when the temperatures rise to the numbers they havebeen recently, it is beneficial to begin work earlier than usual inthe morning.

    “Start early and get out early,” he said. “Spend as little time aspossible out here.”

    Even with Smith’s tactic of rising early to settle early, it isvirtually impossible for people with outdoor jobs not to findthemselves dripping sweat in many instances throughout the day.

    Jamie Gatlin, of Growin’ Green landscaping company, emphasized theimportance of drinking fluids and simply giving the body respitewhen needed. He and his workers take special care not to overheatwhen they’re working to get people’s and businesses’ yards andlawns cleaned up.

    “We drink plenty of fluids and take plenty of breaks,” Gatlinsaid.

    King’s Daughters Medical Center emergency room manager TerrySingleton said they have seen some heat-related emergencies so farthis summer at the hospital. Whenever someone is discharged who hada heat-related emergency, Singleton said they make sure to givethem some advice before they leave.

    “We instruct discharges to stay out of the heat as much aspossible,” Singleton said.

    Singleton went on to say it is important to try to plan the dayaround not being out during afternoon hours when the heat is at itshighest.

    He also said to make sure fluid intakes are high and to avoiddrinking alcoholic and caffeinated beverages. These types of drinksonly help to dehydrate individuals faster, especially combined withhigh temperatures and humidity.

    According to Mississippi Department of Health reports for 2009, thelatest data available, eight Mississippians died that year from”exposure to excessive natural heat.”

    Matthew Rozier, job supervisor of Mike Rozier Construction company,is currently building a new Dollar General store on Highway 550.Along with others who have to pay special attention to heat riskswhen working outside, Rozier expressed the common sense theme thatresonates with anyone who has to be outdoors this time of year forany reason.

    “We take breaks and get lots of air and water,” Rozier said.”That’s about all you can do.”