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Pressure cooker

The excessive heat that has covered much of North Texas in the past week, hitting highs in the 110-degree range, likely will be back for an encore.

So, people who work outdoors have to remain vigilant about protecting themselves, especially in the afternoons and early evenings when the her bears down the most.

Some avoid the sun.

A little before 10 a.m., Dean Cordell, who serves on the Pilot Point City Council, volunteered to drive a riding lawnmower over grass on Broad Street near Washington.

“Just mowing some of the city right of way,” he said during a short break. He planned to do some high grass on Washington Street.

“I’m just trying to get The Square to look a little better,” he said. “I’ve been up there most of the week [trimming] grass.”

He said he would quit about noon and then go to sleep before heading to work in the evening. The weather had not been too bad so far, he said.

Pilot Point City Manager Alan Guard said employees start early and end early, noting public works employees begin at 6:30 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m.

“That’s one way to deal with it,” he said.

Fire department employees work with “high-level” awareness as part of the city’s safety manual.

“It’s a good idea to always get a refresher on that as the weather starts to heat to make sure they’re doing that,” he said.

Firefighters know to hydrate and watch out for one another, Guard said.

“Awareness is the number one thing – be aware,” he said.

Jennifer Villalpando, secretary/treasurer Little Elm Box 620, worked inside a tent set up by a road outside

Pilot Point on July 20 after a small grass fire broke out burned a few acres. Several area fire departments were called to the scene, located not far from Lights Ranch Road.

“On days like today, it’s short work sessions and more people,” said Bryan Cox, Pilot Point Fire Department assistant chief.

To help firefighters who need water breaks, Box 620, a non-profit organization unrelated to the fire department, offers help on-scene rehab in the form of water, Gatorade and snacks to firefighters who are putting out blazes or tending to prolonged service calls.

“We help all of the fire departments in Denton County and northern Collin County,” she said.

The group, which operates from donations and grants, does not do first aid or CPR, but Box 620 will offer firefighters a place to sit and cool off.

The heat on Friday did not deter a few dozen people who hung out at the beach at Ray Roberts Lake State Park.

Ken and Dahlia Austin of McKinney hung out in the shaded picnic area as cool breezes – well, as cool as they could be on a 100-degree plus day – blew in from Ray Roberts Lake. The couple visited the park for the first time and gave it high marks.

“We really love it,” Dahlia said. “We’re going to come back.”

She said she’s from Corpus Christi areas, so she is accustomed to the heat. Ken, on the other hand, hails from Pennsylvania, a state that does not contend with many 100-degree days every year. Dahlia is retired and Ken was on vacation, so they decided to visit the park.

On the beach, Steven Dylla of Canyon Lake was with his wife, Justine, and three children. They had a tent canopy set up on the beach, giving them shade from the oppressive sun. The breezes and cool water helped the family stay cool.

“It’s just a normal day,” Steven said.

People who enjoy making routine visits to the park should know the park will not hold activities that might cause them to wilt in the heat.

“We still plan on having activities and stuff,” said Mark Stewart, Isle du Bois superintendent. “We just kind of maybe reschedule more of inside stuff. We try not to do walks in the heat of the day and things like that.”

The park posted a message on Facebook warning visitors about staying hydrated and taking care of themselves.

“We haven’t so far,” Stewart said, knocking on wood, when asked whether the park had any weather-related incidents.

As far as employees’ well-being is concerned, they normally work an 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. day, but the park moved back their schedules to 7 a.m.-3:30 p.m. so they can some work in the mornings when it is cooler.

“We try to get all of our more manual labor or strenuous taken care of first thing in the morning,” Stewart. “We encourage to take lots of breaks and keep an eye on each other, and watch for the issues arising and keep hydrated.”

Park ranger Will Shaffer said employees do the normal care in the extreme hot weather, such as taking breaks when necessary, drinking water and paying attention to their bodies. They also keep an eye on visitors when they’re out and about.

“If they appear to be dehydrated, they need the help, whether they think they need it or not,” he said. Shaffer said his weather station recoded an temperature of 113 at the park on July 19.

Attendance seems to have been affected by the extreme heat, as some folks are staying home, Stewart said. He said on July 20 that reservations are down a bit, which he attributed to the heat.

“But we’re open for business as usual,” he said, adding that he recommends they come in the morning and evenings.

An the city of Pilot Point Public Works Department, employees come in early, at 6:30 a.m., and work until 3:30 p.m.

“We have coverage from 8 to 5 for City Hall calls,” said Mario Cisneros, public works director.

Employee schedules depend on temperatures, but if a main break happens, employees will tend to the problems.

“But we try to do all of the other projects early in the morning,” he said. “And when it’s too hot, the guys do projects that are not directly in the sun.”

Employees can receive cooling towels and cool pops and watermelon.

“And they take plenty of breaks as needed,” Cisneros said.

At Chandler Cabinets in Pilot Point, as is the case in many places where people don’t work in air-conditioned work places, employees keep stay hydrated to keep from overheating and the company ensures they have plenty to drink. Fans blow in a warehouse to try to bring some air into a facility that provide some relief from the heat.

Still …

“Even with the air running, it’s hotter than heck,” said Robert Bradford, production and operations manager.

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