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As temps creep past 90, folks outdoors take precautions

POSTED: June 19, 2009 11:21 p.m.

Though it was the hottest day of the season so far on Friday, Ben Dailey was out mowing grass for Pro Touch Landscaping.

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Shade and water.

That’s the theme to avoiding the heat for those in any professions who may encounter it: construction workers, air conditioner installers, child care workers and veterinarians.

"It’s mostly just common sense," said Holly Reed, a technician at Animal Medical Care on Thompson Bridge Road. "The biggest things for animals are shelter out of the direct sunlight and lots and lots of water."

The mercury hit a high of 93 degrees Friday at the National Weather Service recording station at Gainesville’s Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport. That was a few degrees shy of the forecast high of 96, but still the hottest day of the season so far.

At E.E. Butler Head Start on Athens Street, caretakers keep infants and toddlers inside in the afternoon to "avoid the hottest times of the day," center director Kim McKinney said.

"Children typically go out early in the morning while it’s still cool, and we have a lot of shaded areas, so it’s typically not a problem," she said.

For some day care centers, it’s better to avoid the heat completely.

"We have to protect them, so we stay inside and haven’t been going outside at all," said Donna Johnson, director of ABC Early Learning Center on Morningside Circle.

Most Gainesville construction companies encourage workers to stay hydrated. Carroll Daniel Construction Co. on Athens Street even presented a safety training session Friday to emphasize the importance of safety to its workers.

"We told them to drink plenty of water, drink electrolytes, take frequent breaks and use sunscreen," President Rives Doss said.

In the service sector, demand is high for relief.

"Because of the heat, smoothies and iced coffees are mostly what we sell right now," said Joan Smith, owner of Cool Beans Coffee Cafe on Mundy Mill Road.

When it comes to air conditioning installs and repairs, "the old saying is ‘too much business is almost worse than no business,’" said Jeff Dale, vice president of Lawson Air Conditioning and Plumbing on Dorsey Street.

"In this kind of weather, when it’s above 90, there are some life safety issues, and we try our hardest to address needs as well as wants," he said. "There are so many requests, and we try our best to do them in a safe, timely fashion."

Although he has to work outside, it’s satisfying to bring relief to others, said Tim Gee, owner of Gee’s Heating & Air on Highland Drive.

"I know it’s hot out, the phones are ringing off the hook," he said. "I’m on a roof now at Nichols’ Diner, trying to get the restaurant going with air."

Today’s high is expected to climb back near 95, but slightly cooler temps are due in next week. But the worst may still be to come: Sunday is the first official day of summer.


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