Metro-East News

Metro-east workers try to beat the heat

Area workers say you have to be smart to beat the heat on days like Tuesday.

Contractor Everett Norvell said he tries to get an early start on especially hot days.

“I planned to be here really early and be done by the hottest part of the day,” Norvell said as he painted a sign at Lake Christine Center in Belleville. “But I had to drop my fiancé off at work, so I couldn’t do that.”

Instead, Norvell said he came prepared to take breaks and drink plenty of water. Plus, he kept his car close by in case he needed to rely on the air condition to cool down.

“It’s hot,” Norvell said. “But what are you going to do? I have to pay my bills, so I have to work.”

Working in the heat isn’t fun, according to Norvell, who would rather work when it’s cold than when it’s hot.

“I can add more layers to warm up,” Norvell said. “But there isn’t much you can do to cool down.”

Electrician Mike Gartland, a Fairview Heights resident working for MAC Electric in O’Fallon, was digging holes by hand Tuesday so he could run wires from the O’Fallon public pool to a nearby baseball field where city leaders wanted an outlet installed.

It seemed cruel that children were happily splashing in a cool, blue pool just yards away as Gartland’s T-shirt was soaked through with perspiration.

“It’s okay,” Gartland said of the conditions. “I’m just making sure to get a little bit of shade and a lot of water.”

Gartland agreed with Norvell’s advice about starting early if you can. His day began at 5 a.m. Tuesday so he could wrap up around 1 p.m., just as temperatures reached their hottest point of the day.

But he disagreed about Norvell’s opinion about the cold.

“I’d rather sweat than freeze any day of the week,” Gartland said. “People say you can add layers. But I can’t do my job when my fingers are frozen, and you’re dressed like the Pillsbury Doughboy.”

Renee Humphries, of Hammons and Hammons Construction of St. Louis, was doing one of the toughest jobs imaginable during a heat wave — sealing asphalt.

“We started at 5 a.m. when we’d usually start at 7 a.m. because of the temperatures,” Humphries said. “You have to work smarter instead of harder when it’s this hot outside.”

While it’s tough to work in the heat, Humpries’ husband and foreman, Scott, said it’s good for business.

“When you’re doing asphalt sealing, you can’t work if there is even a hint that it might rain,” Scott Humphries said. “So we’re glad for a day like this when we can get out there, work and make some money.”

An excessive heat warning was in place Tuesday with a high temperature of 95 and a heat index of up to 110, according to the National Weather Service.

But people who have to work outside should get a break Tuesday when the weather will trend toward cooler temperatures.

On Wednesday, there is a 40 percent chance of thunderstorms with a high of 90. It will be partly cloudy Wednesday night with a low of 66.

Skies will be sunny Thursday with a high of 87 during the day. Thursday night, it will be mostly clear with a low of 66.

Click here to see the detailed local forecast.

Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at or 618-239-2626. Follow him on Twitter: @scottwuerzBND.

The St. Clair County Health Department recommends protecting yourself, your family and pets from heat-related illnesses by taking the following precautions: 

▪  Stay indoors as much as possible, limit exposure to sun and wear sunscreen if you are outdoors. 

▪  Never leave children or pets in closed vehicles. 

▪  Postpone outdoor games and activities. 

▪  Drink plenty of water, even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine. Limit alcoholic beverages.

▪  Dress in loose-fitting, light-weight clothing that covers as much skin as possible. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.

▪  Avoid strenuous work during the hottest part of the day. 

▪  Check your animal frequently to make sure they are not suffering from heat and have fresh drinking water. 

▪  Dial 211 for a listing from United Way of cooling shelters in the area.