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When the going gets hot, these Ashlanders get going

An air-conditioned office is a distant dream for many
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Buck Davis attends to a vehicle at the Texaco Gas Station during 100-degree temperatures on July 30, 2009.Jamie Lusch
 Posted: 10:55 AM August 01, 2009

With record temperatures hovering in the 100s, there are those who take on the high heat head on.

Without the luxury of air conditioners, or a lightened work load, those who toil in the heat deal with it-one degree at a time.

"It sucks," said Ashland Mail Carrier Melissa Mills. "But at least we're not in Medford, where it's even worse."

Mail carriers, along with other traditional outdoor jobs, take the full brunt of the heat. Construction workers, landscapers and gas station attendants all have ways to make it bearable, but not enjoyable.

"It's hard," Mills said. "You have to drink a lot of water, and you don't go as fast because you have to conserve a lot of energy."

Some mail carriers, like David Gall, plan their routes accordingly. Some of the coping devices include staying on the cooler side of the street and knowing which areas are hotter at certain times of the day. Mills, whose route starts on foot before moving to the truck, said being in the mail truck is no bargain.

"The last hour in the truck, you're dying," Mills said. "We have a little fan that just blows hot air on you. I shut mine off, but when I start to sweat, I turn it back on."

Gas stations are hot places to work, and with the summer travel season in full swing, things are busier than ever. A combination of circumstances-car exhaust, the pavement and customer attitudes, can make things even worse.

"I get used to it, but it's really hot," said Texaco Attendant, Tanya Forbes. "Everybody is traveling because it's summer, so it's just as busy and people can get really grumpy"

Forbes said the pavement gets so hot, it can be felt through your shoes.

"It's hard to be energetic," co-worker Joe Lumby said.

At the Astro 76 station on Lithia and East Main Street, attendant Heather Pearson also noted the effects of working in the heat.

"Yeah, it takes a lot more out of you, it takes less work to get tired," she said. "Customers are a lot more edgier because they have to turn off their cars while it's being fueled."

Pearson said being on the pavement definitely makes it hotter and the heat causes exhaust fumes to rise more, "So you get both the heat and the smell of gas."

With a head full of sweat and a name apropos for the situation, John Summers of Valleys Choice Landscaping takes it all in stride.

"It doesn't bother me," Summers said. "It's not as much fun and it's a little sweatier, but I can handle it. The lawn still has to get cut."

Ashland Fire & Rescue Division Chief Margueritte Hickman knows how hot things can really get and offers advice to those sweating it out in the heat.

"You have to take good care of yourself," she said. "While you are working, you need to keep hydrating yourself and take breaks when you need them. This is good advice for everyone."

Hickman explained heat exhaustion, and said, "When you realize it, it's probably too late, so you need to maintain your water intake."

Hickman's ultimate advice on beating the heat: "I recommend a dip in the pool."


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