Early July brings withering heat to Oklahoma City metro area

If you drive past an Oklahoma City utility crew in the next few days, you might notice a few workers sitting in the shade, sipping bottles of water. Don’t worry. That’s what they’re supposed to be doing.
by Silas Allen Modified: July 9, 2014 at 2:00 pm •  Published: July 8, 2014
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If you drive past an Oklahoma City utility crew in the next few days, you might notice a few workers sitting in the shade, sipping bottles of water.

Don’t worry. That’s what they’re supposed to be doing.

As daytime temperatures have climbed into the high 90s across central Oklahoma this week, the Oklahoma City Utilities Department is taking steps to keep its workers safe in the withering heat.

When high temperatures climb above 95 degrees, workers are required to take five-minute breaks every hour to sit in the shade and drink water, said Jesse Hilley, a safety manager for the utilities department.

During the hottest part of the summer, the department rearranges some workers’ schedules to avoid putting them outside in the heat of the day. But that isn’t possible for some workers, like water line maintenance crews, which are on duty around the clock, Hilley said.

Hot conditions are especially difficult for excavation workers, who may be working in holes eight feet underground, Hilley said. Any breeze that might be passing through the area won’t make it to the bottom of a hole, he said.

“It’s tough,” he said.

An Oklahoma Mesonet weather network station in north Oklahoma City recorded a high temperature of nearly 98 degrees Monday. The National Weather Service said Tuesday’s high temperature also was 98 degrees.

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by Silas Allen
General Assignment/Breaking News Reporter
Silas Allen is a news reporter for The Oklahoman. He is a Missouri native and a 2008 graduate of the University of Missouri.
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