Beating the heat: How Michigan asphalt crews protect themselves from hot summer temps

Posted at 1:21 PM, Aug 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-12 13:21:15-04

(WSYM) — (WXYZ) - It's been a hot few days in Metro-Detroit and the heat can really wreak havoc on your health if you aren't careful.

High temperatures can make working outside uncomfortable, but the show must go on for crews at Action Asphalt.

"You kind of got to pick and choose when you do certain things," said Don Brown, the superintendent for the company.

Brown says on a hot summer day his crew won't lay asphalt because the heat it radiates can be upwards of 200 degrees.

His men did some prep work on a driveway in Northville Wednesday. Brown says the workload is intentional to keep the risk of heat exhaustion to a minimum.

"I've actually seen guys walk right past the pavement and pass out because of the heat," said Brown. "They get dehydrated so you have to keep plenty of fluids in your body."

Brown's son, Hunter, is new to the trade. He says while working in the summer heat can be brutal, he inherited a high tolerance for it from his dad.

"The heat comes naturally to me," said Hunter Brown. "Of course it gets to you every now and then, but usually I can take it."

Dr. Kristy Smith, an emergency physician at Detroit Medical Center, says people often ignore early signs of heat exhaustion. The symptoms can range from muscle cramps to nausea.

"If you don't take yourself out of the heat, cool yourself down, and make sure you're getting lots of fluid your body temperature can rise to the point where it can be a serious medical emergency," said Smith.

When temps are hitting near 90 degrees, older people and kids are ones to keep a close eye on. Smith says they're vulnerable in the hot weather. Brown says when it comes to putting in work outside, he always keeps a stocked cooler nearby in his flat bad and tells his team to watch out for their own.

"Everybody has to watch out for everybody out here cause the traffic doesn't watch out for you," said Brown.

Brown says he and his men will be back out to pave the driveway on a cooler day.

If you plan to be out in the heat make sure you stay hydrated and rest in the shade if you're feeling too hot.

Smith says if you are experiencing severe symptoms like confusion or dizzy spells you should seek medical attention.

"Emergency departments are air conditioned obviously, ice packs are available, and more invasive ways of cooling off the body are available if they need it," said Smith.