Augusta crew finds ways to stay cool

Heat advisory is in effect from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. today

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"Brutal" fittingly described the sweltering heat Gold Mech Heating and Air Services technician Erik Hansen battled Monday afternoon.

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Zach Boyden-Holmes/Staff
Technicians Erik Hansen (top) and Sigmund Bumatay, of Gold Mech Heating and Air Services, oil bearings in a cooling tower atop the Wells Fargo building in downtown Augusta. Monday’s high was 100, and today is expected to be the same.

Hansen climbed a ladder to service an air conditioner cooling tower on the rooftop of the Wells Fargo building in downtown Augusta.

"Whew," he said, using two hands to wipe the sweat from his brow after descending the ladder.

Day after day during summertime, Hansen and other service technicians work in environments where the temperatures soar far into triple digits - on rooftops and in enclosed attics.

Hansen yearns for lunchtime, when he can sit in his truck with the air conditioner blasting.

Outside mercury levels in the upper 90s can create temperatures as high as 130 degrees in an attic, he said.
On rooftops, white and bright surfaces reflect the sun, making for a hot time, Hansen said.

Still, Hansen, a 15-year heating and air service veteran, prefers the summer heat to cold winter months.

"I'm a better sweater than I am a freezer," he said.

Hansen and the crew who routinely maintain the Wells Fargo air units employ some creativity to keep cool. About six years ago, the crew cut a makeshift vent in the air duct in the mechanical room above the 17th floor.

Jason Jones, another Gold Mech service technician who observed Monday's work, said long days sweating could have contributed to his recent weight loss.

"A lot of people are not made for working in the heat," Jones said. "You got to take care of yourself."

Drinking fluids filled with electrolytes throughout the day prevents dehydration, he said.

The shoes on his sweaty feet come off first when Jones returns home after a day's work that leaves him "exhausted, tired, ready to get in the tub."

But before a refreshing bath or shower, a cold drink and a bite to eat reward the hardworking Jones.

Take extra care

Here are signs of heat-related illnesses:

Heat Cramps
Symptoms:
Painful spasms, usually in the leg and abdominal muscles; heavy sweating
Treatment: Apply firm pressure to cramped muscles or gently massage to relieve pressure; take sips of water.

Heat Exhaustion
Symptoms: Heavy sweating; weakness; skin is cold, pale and clammy; weak pulse; normal temperatures possible; fainting; vomiting
Treatment: Lie down in a cool place; loosen clothing; apply cool, wet cloths; drink sips of water; if vomiting occurs, seek medical attention.

Heat Stroke
Symptoms: High body temperatures; hot, dry skin; rapid, strong pulse; possible unconsciousness; lack of sweat is common.
Treatment: Seek medical attention immediately; do not give fluids.

Source: Richmond County Emergency Management

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