While his job is keeping people cool, that isn’t always a luxury that Mark Souza gets to enjoy.
As the longest heat wave of the year rolls across Northern California – bringing with it more than a week of triple-digit temperatures – local HVAC shop owners like Souza are spending their days running from call to call to make sure that residents stay comfortable during the scorching weather.
While business might be booming, spending the majority of the day either outside or in an attic means that workers like Souza have to think ahead when it comes to protecting themselves against the brutal elements.
“When it’s hot like this, the night before I try to drink a gallon of water so I’m hydrated,” Souza said. “And then throughout the day I’m always drinking water and thinking about what I have to do in order to replace electrolytes – sometimes water isn’t enough when it’s this hot and you need Gatorade or electrolyte pills.
“You have to think ahead when it is this hot outside and you spend most of your day outside.”
And Souza isn’t alone when it comes to figuring out how he can protect himself from the excessive heat.
Brett Meyers, who works construction, said that while he’s used to the heat in the late afternoon, waves like the one currently sweeping across the region mean that it’s much warmer earlier in the day – something that can lead to disaster if people aren’t paying attention.
Last year Meyers said that he had a guy on his jobsite end up in the hospital because he wasn’t drinking enough water, and the hot morning played a major role in allowing the elements to overcome him.
“When you’re used to being outside you develop habits and you begin to think that you’re invincible against things like the sun,” he said. “Just that little change in the morning temperature can take its toll – when it’s 90 degrees when it’s normally 70 – and you don’t want to be the guy that ends up in an ambulance because you pass out.
“Safety on the job is a big thing, and it’s important to make sure that being hydrated is a part of that because bad things can happen.”
Cities across the Northern San Joaquin Valley have activated their emergency cooling centers to provide residents with a safe place for them to go – especially those who may not have the means to run their air conditioner at a level that will keep their house comfortable.
Lathrop opened its cooling center at the Lathrop Generations Center – located at 450 Spartan Way – on Thursday and has plans to keep it open through the middle of this week, while the City of Manteca opened the Manteca Transit Center on Friday and will keep it open through Thursday from 1 to 9 p.m.
According to San Joaquin County Public Health Services, with overnight lows dropping into the low 80’s, staying hydrated, dressing for hot weather, staying indoors, and being mindful of pets and the elderly are recommended as standard practice for at least the next week.
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