ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–It was the cool part of the day, only 98 degrees, and utility worker Bobby Burgess was getting ready to crawl back in a hot manhole filled with electrical equipment.
“It’s as hot, or hotter, as it is above the ground,”Burgess said, “but there’s no breeze.”
Burgess was pacing himself, and resting in the shade on his lunch break — drinking water to brace himself for the afternoon and the 103 degree high expected.
“I’m gonna sweat, I’m gonna lose some weight,” Burgess sighed.
Doctors are warning that the return of triple-digit heat can take down even the hale and hearty. At Barnes Jewish hospital, they’ve seen twice as many heat sick cases this summer compared to last year at this time. It can start with a headache.
“As the heat beats down, you notice that you start to get a little bit extra sleepy,” said emergency room Dr. Brian Froelke, “The headache can actually progress to your body losing a lot of its fluids. And as you lose your fluids you can become sick to your stomach, nauseated and have some decrease in your ability to concentrate and appropriately think.”
With severe dehydration, Froelke says your body starts to shut down You stop urinating, and the important flow of fluids thru your body is diverted to the most critical areas of your system like your brain, heart and lungs.
Shrugging off the dangers, many were working out in the heat.
Cement worker Ralph Pittman, 44, was planning to work eight-to-ten hours in the heat, pouring concrete from a cement mixer truck.
“I got a lot of water and Gatorade , but by the end of the day, you’re just drained,” Pittman said. Echoing the symptoms cited by the ER doctor, Pittman says he sometimes feel nauseous and dizzy in the heat, but quickly “runs for the air conditioning ” in the cab of the cement truck to cool down.
The heat is also having an impact on pets.
Dog walker Jeff Schmidt works for a company that watches and walks the dogs of people away on vacation. Walking a 13-year old dog that was visibly panting, Schmidt says he was planning to make it a very short walk to get the dog back in the air conditioning.
“We only do about a ten-to-fifteen minute walk when it’s up above 90,” Schmidt said.
Undeterred by the heat, theatre lovers were buying tickets for the Muny Opera Forest Park. Fan Diana Prazma says she knows what it’s like to be sweating sitting still at the Muny, but feels it can still be fun, if you go about it right.
“You bring water and dress cool and stay in the shade,” Prazma said.
Muny performers have been know to wear frozen underwear body packs to get through the heat, which is even worse in the stage lights.