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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Aug. 22, 2003
CONTACT: Bill Snook, Health Department, (816) 840-2548

City takes steps to protect workers as heat wave continues

The City of Kansas City, Mo., is taking action to prevent heat-related illnesses from striking its workforce. Some departments are adjusting work schedules for labor employees and making sure workers have access to water, as well as opportunities to cool off.

The Aviation Department’s field maintenance crews can choose to alter their shifts to minimize heat exposure. Staff will be allowed to remain on their standard shift; start at 11 p.m.; or start at 4 a.m. Employees have been issued personal water dispensers and sun hats, and work groups will have large water coolers available as well as other hydrating liquids. Staff choosing to remain on their regular shift will have their duties adjusted to minimize exposure after the noon break, focusing their attention on indoor work. Supervisors will closely monitor work done in the field during peak temperatures. Any heat-related complaints will be dealt with by altering assignments if the assignment is not an emergency. The alternative shifts will begin Aug. 25 and will be offered for two weeks and will be reviewed at that time.

The Parks and Recreation Department adjusted their work hours at the beginning of the summer to reduce the number of hours labor employees work in the hottest part of the day. Most Parks and Recreation Department labor employees work from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Exceptions to this include field units that have other needs and operational issues to address. This includes golf courses which start even earlier to prepare the courses for early morning tournaments. Other adjustments include having crews mow shaded parks and park areas in the hottest part of the day, rather than spending their entire day in direct sunlight and heat. In addition, the department’s work crews are diligent about filling up their water coolers each morning, and supervisors are emphasizing the importance of drinking enough water each day.

The Public Works Department is maintaining a regular work schedule from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., because materials such as rock, asphalt and concrete are not readily available at other times. However, the department is shifting schedules for pouring concrete so it can cure in the cooler part of the day. The department also is providing air-conditioned truck cabs and other equipment for employees to cool off, and providing water and hydrating liquids throughout the day. In addition, the Public Works Department is developing a plan for implementation in future extreme heat conditions.

Department of Environmental Management crews are working regular shifts which begin at 7 a.m. Extra trucks are being put on routes to allow them to finish as soon as possible. Crews carry large containers of water on the trucks and are reminded to take frequent drinks.

The Water Services Department has an extreme weather condition policy that has measures for extreme cold and extreme heat conditions. The hot weather procedure is implemented when the official temperature at KCI Airport reaches 95 degrees or there is a heat index of 105 degrees. Under those conditions, employees may be given a "hot option day." This allows them to perform alternative forms of work not impacted by extreme heat conditions. However, public safety, health and other customer needs will not be compromised. The policy also prescribes that employees take these precautions in hot conditions:
1. Drink plenty of fluids.
2. Wear cool, loose-fitting clothing.
3. Utilize fans to increase air flow if available.
4. Work in shaded areas when possible.
5. Utilize more breaks as required (such as alternative work groups).
6. Recognize heat stress symptoms: heat cramps and muscle spasms and profuse sweating, weakness, dizziness, nausea, headaches, or cool moist skin.

The Kansas City Health Department’s Heat Advisory remains in effect for Kansas City for the rest of the summer.

A Heat Warning only will be issued by the Kansas City Health Department when the heat index is scheduled to reach 105 degrees (KCI Airport) by 11 a.m. A Heat Emergency will be issued by the Kansas City Health Department when the heat index is scheduled to reach 105 degrees (KCI Airport) by 11 a.m. for three consecutive days or the temperature is greater than 85 degrees at night or 130 degrees on any day. The criteria were established after analyzing heat illness and injury data from the 1980 heat wave, which resulted in 136 deaths.

Ten things you can do to protect your health during times of extreme heat:
1. NEVER leave children, pets or others alone in closed vehicles: within minutes, the temperature inside a car can reach over 140 degrees and this can kill within minutes.
2. Avoid too much sunshine, and postpone outdoor activities and games.
3. Avoid extreme temperature changes, such as a taking a cool shower immediately after coming inside from hot temperatures.
4. Stay indoors as much as possible.
5. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to a public building every day for several hours.
6. Keep heat outside and cool air inside.
7. Conserve electricity not needed to keep you cool.
8. If you have to work outside, take frequent breaks, rest in the shade, and drink plenty of water.
9. Dress for the weather: wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing; lightweight, light-colored clothing reflects heat and helps maintain normal body temperature. If you HAVE to be outside, cover as much skin as possible to avoid sunburn. Protect your face and head with a wide-brimmed hat.
10. Check on your neighbors, friends and relatives at least twice a day (morning and night).

Cooling centers only will be opened after a Heat Warning is issued, but there are area facilities where citizens can go to beat the heat. The following are City community centers:
Tony Aguirre Community Center, 2050 West Pennway, Monday – Friday: 8 a.m. – 9 p.m., Saturday: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Brush Creek Community Center, 3801 Emanuel Cleaver II Blvd., Monday – Friday: 11 a.m. – 8 p.m., Saturday: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Garrison Community Center, 1124 E. 5th St., Monday – Friday: 1–9 p.m.
Gregg Community Center & Klice Fitness Center, 1600 John "Buck" O'Neil Way, Monday – Friday: 6 a.m. – 9 p.m., Saturday: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sunday: 1–6 p.m.
Hillcrest Community Center, 10401 Hillcrest Road, Monday – Thursday: 7 a.m. – 9 p.m., Friday: 7 a.m. – 6 p.m., Saturday: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Kansas City North Community Center, 3930 NE Antioch Road, Monday – Thursday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m., Friday: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Saturday: 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Line Creek Community Center, 5940 NW Waukomis Drive, Monday – Friday: 7 a.m. – 10 p.m., Saturday: 7:30 a.m. – 6 p.m., Sunday: 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Marlborough Community Center, 8200 Paseo, Monday – Friday: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m., Saturday: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Southeast Community Center, 3601 E. 63rd St., Monday – Friday: 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Westport-Roanoke Community Center, 3601 Roanoke Road, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: noon – 9 p.m., Tuesday: 9:45 a.m. – 9 p.m., Saturday: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

These local agencies also are providing facilities where citizens can go to beat the heat:
Bellefontaine Corps, 3013 E. 9th St., Kansas City, MO 64124, (816) 483-8484 or (816) 241-2526.
Blue Valley Corps, 6618 E. Truman Road, Kansas City, MO 64126, (816) 241-6485.
Southland Corps, 6111 E. 129th St., Grandview, MO 64030, (816) 966-8300.
Independence Corps, 14700 E. Truman Road, Independence, MO 64050, (816) 252-3200.
Kansas City, Kansas Corps, 701 Washington, Kansas City, KS 66101, (913) 371-1171 or (913) 321-6958.
Northland Corps, 4300 NE Parvin Road, Kansas City, MO 64117, (816) 452-5663.
Olathe Corps, 420 E. Santa Fe, Olathe, KS 66061, (913) 782-3640.
Westport Corps, 500 W. 39th St., Kansas City, MO 64111, (816) 753-6040.

The Kansas City Health Department’s Aug. 18 warning to athletes, coaches and parents about participating in sports during hot weather is still in effect. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, athletes who do vigorous workouts, especially when the heat index is in the 90s and above, are at high risk for developing heat-related illnesses.

The Health Department encourages athletes to drink lots of water, and to stay hydrated by not waiting until they feel thirsty to drink it. A good rule of thumb is, “If you are thirsty, you are already beginning to dehydrate.” If you are on water pills or a fluid-restricted diet, check with your doctor to see how much you should drink when the weather is hot. Avoid caffeine and alcohol as these products serve as diuretics and make the body dehydrate faster.

Athletes also should avoid any performance-enhancing product containing ephedra. These products can increase your metabolism, thus increasing your body temperature.

Finally, the Health Department encourages athletes to work out early in the morning and late in the evening when the temperatures are lower.

For more information about heat-related illnesses, visit the CDC’s Web page about extreme heat (http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/hsb/extremeheat/).

    
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