Hot, Sweaty, and Furry

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

Here in Washington, we may think we have it bad... Yesterday saw record temperatures all over the East Coast, and all anyone can do (as always when temps hit extremes) is talk about it. We're not above it, but we also quickly realized that the day's heat disappears for us once we cross through the front doors of HQ where we are quickly — and sometimes excessively — cooled all day long by NPR's hard-workin' A/C. But what about people who work outside? There's no escape for them... and what about people who work outside IN COSTUME? I can hardly think of anything worse. Have you ever donned a mascot's head and worked at a theme park or ball game? Dressed in layers and layers of wool and cotton and given tours of historic homes and towns?

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I saw a guy outside of NPR today who was wearing a Russian fur hat. I couldn't tell if he had lost a bet, or if he was hiding a marmoset.

Sent by andy carvin | 3:12 PM | 8-9-2007

I grew up playing softball in south west florida, in order to deal with 100 degree temperatures and unparallelled humidity we used to place a cabbage leaf between our head and hat. I don't know why it works, but it does. Every couple innings you traded out one leaf for another and it kept the head cool, which in turn kept the rest of the body cool.
libby shannon, bonita springs, fl

Sent by Libby Shannon | 3:45 PM | 8-9-2007

I offer this more as cooling, soothing thought than "rubbing it in." We live in Kensington, California (across the Bay from San Francisco); it was so foggy and cool Sunday night that we had a fire going in the wood stove. Hold on, cool is coming!

Sent by K. Atchley | 3:45 PM | 8-9-2007

I used to work for a landscaping company in Portland, OR. To cope with summer's heat I would drink sports drinks by the gallon. You knew it was a bad day when you drank 2 gallons of gatorade and only had to use the bathroom once. I feel for roofers and other outside workers when it's so hot!

Sent by Ariana | 3:46 PM | 8-9-2007

When I was in high school, my usual inside, air-conditioned part-time job turned into an outside job for one day during a 100-degree summer day. I ended up with a severe case of heat exhaustion that has forever increased my susceptibility to getting sick from the heat.

I see construction workers out there on the hot asphalt with only a Mountain Dew for hydration, and I start feeling nauseous just thinking about it. I wonder how much one can train their body to stand the heat and how much is genetic sensitivity. I am very fair-skinned, and I'm sure that has something to do with it.

Sent by Amanda | 3:47 PM | 8-9-2007

Don't forget the farm workers!!!.... The people that pick tomatos in Florida, or vegies in the California Central Valley, and really all over the word!

I doubt that they will call... somebody should talk for them... Do a program about it!!!

Sent by Marcos | 3:54 PM | 8-9-2007

People complain more about the heat than the cold yet they all move south to avoid winter

Sent by Paul MacEnroe | 3:57 PM | 8-9-2007

I work at a restaurant in Cincinnati, Ohio. There is a large outdoor area for dining which includes a tiki bar, cornhole, and sand volleyball leagues, as well as outdoor dining and smoking. The temperature here has been over 97 all week with heat index os 100+. The servers get paid $3.46 per hour + tips. I have decided that if I get to work tonight and I'm told to work outside under a heat emergency and smog alert at 105 degrees, I'm going to pass, even if it means no job.

Sent by Mystery Server | 3:59 PM | 8-9-2007

Does working in full nomex pants shirts, boots, gloves, hardhat while carrying a 40 pound pack and digging in the dirt while hiking up hill, sound like fun? Throw in 100 plus temps, smoke, and some good ol fashion flames and you have yourself a career in wildland firefighting. All we can do is water up and hopefully find some shade out there.

Sent by Fire fighter in McCall Idaho | 4:09 PM | 8-9-2007

Let's not forget about our sons and daughters in uniform sweltering in the middle east. It's the only place I've been where you feel like you might actually die in the sun. You survive by finding shade and drinking literally gallons of water. At the end of the day your uniform looks like it was tie-dyed with the pattern of dried salt from sweat.

Sent by Bill | 4:09 PM | 8-9-2007

I am a roof inspector and working out side in these temperatures can be difficult to do. To keep my self cool I wear a white t-shirt under my white polo.

While working in hot days, I prefer not to wipe away the sweat because doing so will cause my body to sweat more and loose more water! The two shirts soaked in sweat really helps keep my core body cool.

I have recorded the roof temperatures with an "IR" thermometer in the past and have found it to be 40 to 70 degrees hotter than the ambient temperature.

Sometimes I have to leap over walls with metal caps and the metal is burning hot! When I get on my knees to work I feel the roof burning my neck and face and the steel toe boots just melting into the asphalt roof!

Dealing with this heat isn't that hard, I just have to remember to take breaks, and find some shade and cool down. Drink plenty of liquids. I have a feeling that my dark skin could give me an advantage over some because I rarely get sunburns.

Sent by Michael | 4:13 PM | 8-9-2007

I would suggest to those in hot jobs with no access to AC that cold/ice-packs applied directly to the small of the back at the kidneys will help you manage the high temps. Your body fluids pass through this point so it acts as a radiator. Keep extra packs in a cooler.

As for Steve -- the Oriole bird -- it never gets hotter in that suit than his body temperature or the ambient temperature -- whichever is greater. Heat/energy has to come from somewhere -- so at a night game that's all the heat there is. (In a day game if the suit absorbs some solar energy there may be some temperature rise inside the suit.) He may feel hotter though because inside the suit sweat doesn't get to evaporate and cool the skin.

Sent by Arnie in South Bend | 7:32 PM | 8-9-2007

Libby Shannon keeps cool playing softball with cabbage leaves between her head and her hat. Riding buses through Afghanistan's deserts in 1973, blast furnace winds coming in the windows, I was bemused to see passengers stuffing cucumber peelings under their skullcaps, protruding ridiculously. Until I tried it with my baseball cap. It was ridiculously effective. It works because the cabbage or cucumber are full of water which, like sweat, draws heat from the head as it evaporates and keeps you comfy cool.

Sent by David Morgan | 7:35 AM | 8-10-2007