Outdoor crews cope as sweltering temps hit 90s for the third straight day

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A lot of people are taking extra precaution amid the first three-day stretch of 90-degree temperatures in nearly a year.

At least two heat-related deaths have been reported so far this week.

As the temps shot up, most people tried to find relief indoors, but it's just not possible for some people when work requires them to be out in the sun.

Keith Herd, a project manager with All Season Roofing, said it's "Super hot. I've been sweating out. This is my second time wearing this same shirt."

Roofers, emergency crews, and road construction teams are among those coping with the blistering heat.

Jesus Ortega Hernandez of Sirrah Construction said, "Be cautious, be safe. Just have to deal with it. Drink enough fluids."

Thursday's high of 92 was relatively manageable compared to earlier in the week, when the high reached 99, but it still posed a challenge.

Herd said proper gear is critical: a hat to block the sun, gloves to protect against rough shingles, and plenty of water. He said, "Sometimes you'll get nauseous. But you'll drink a lot of water, you'll go in the truck and turn the air conditioning on."

Road crews described a similar challenge. Ortega Hernandez said, "Yesterday we worked only eight hours because of the heat. Today we're pushing it a little more because it's breezy."

But they're still cautious, and with good reason. This week two people died as a result of high heat. A 39-year-old woman was found unresponsive in her bedroom. There was a window AC unit downstairs, but upstairs the temp was 88 degrees.

An 89-year-old man was found outside in his Greenfield backyard Tuesday. The temperature at the time was 98 degrees.

Dr. Manish Shah, of UW Health's emergency department, said, "You have to be cognizant of what you're going through, what you're feeling, what symptoms you have. And respond to those rapidly. Otherwise you're going to end up in the emergency department."

Or worse. Dr. Shah says mild heat illness can be treated by getting inside, drinking water, and getting in front of a fan or the air conditioning.

But serious emergencies like exhaustion or heat stroke can be hard to treat without going to the emergency room. There, health professionals could administer a breathing tube or an IV.

Even as the sun started to drop, the temps remained high. The crews working outside say they'll break as often as they need to. Ortega Hernandez said, "I told my guys we have coolers, water, juices. If you guys are hot, go take a break."

And if it's dangerous, they'll call it a day. Herd said, "Sometimes if it gets too hot, we'll stop working. If it's too hot and it just makes no sense."

Herd said his crew worked 11 hours Wednesday roofing two houses and doing a few more estimates. Wednesday night's storm meant they had to stay at it and finish before the rain came.

He said some people in the industry get gym memberships just so they can get out of the sun during the day and take a shower.

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