July 2, 2014 3:32 pm

40 degree heat has New Brunswickers on alert

People who work outside are encouraged to pay attention to how they're feeling in the heat.

Alexandra Abdelwahab/Global News

NEW BRUNSWICK – A heat alert is in effect for much of the province as temperatures reached 40 degrees Wednesday with the humidex.

The extreme heat has prompted health warnings and forced some companies to send their employees home early.

It was hot enough to melt the bottom of a paving crew’s work boots in Moncton. The pavement surface temperature was running about 165 degrees.

Foreman Mark McKay spent the day monitoring his crew and the temperature.

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“There is a thermometer on the back of the paver that is reading about 45 or so,” McKay said.

According to WorksafeNB, employers are required to ensure the temperature is monitored using measuring instruments and they must train workers to recognize and treat the early signs of heat stress.

Each employee also has the right to step away from the job if he or she feels like they can’t handle the heat.

On Wednesday, some New Brunswick companies were not taking any chances. Construction and roofing companies across the city shut down operations at noon. It was too hot and risky to keep workers on the job.

Since 2009, WorksafeNB has processed nine claims for environmental heat exposure, including heat stroke and heat fatigue.

Heat concerns most vulnerable

Eight ounces of water, every hour. That’s what nurses at Fredericton’s Windsor Court are trying to keep up with this week.

Health care administrator Michelle Virtue says it’s harder to keep residents healthy in the heat.

“We have to keep residents hydrated, because as you get older, you lose your sense of thirst often. And a lot of residents aren’t able to get that water for themselves, so it takes a lot of encouraging,” she said.

Seniors need eight ounces of water each hour when there’s extreme hot weather.

Emily Baron Cadloff/Global News

Seniors are among the groups strongly affected by heat. Some chronic illnesses, like arthritis and breathing problems, can flare up in the hot temperatures. That’s why nurses are monitoring room temperatures, and keeping everyone cool.

“We’re very fortunate, we have an ice cream machine, so the residents are enjoying the ice cream, and also we have staff that circulate with popsicles,” said Virtue.

At Sunny Days Children’s Centre, it’s an “inside day.”

“Because of the weather, it’s too hot, they can’t even go in our own playground,” said owner Jenny Gaines Rattray.

Staff at the daycare plan their summer camps back in January. Wednesday was supposed to include a trip to the park, and tennis lessons. But once the temperatures hit 30 degrees, Gaines Rattray decided it was safer to stay in.

“They all have their water bottles, they have sunscreen, they have hats and things like that. So we do try to take every precaution but the health of the child is the most important thing, so the air conditioned inside, although it’s not as exciting, it’s the safest,” she said.

 

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