LEXINGTON, Ky. — Maybe a name change is in order for the “Stifling Summer Boys.”
What do you want to know
- A University of Kentucky professor says the current heat wave is the hottest and longest in a decade
- Baseball players endure the temperatures as the season progresses
- The teacher gives advice on how to avoid heat-related illnesses
- A local baseball player claims that turf raises the temperature dramatically
The latest heat wave that scorched Kentucky didn’t stop the Lexington Legends, who took to the field for a 12:05 p.m. game against the York Revolution on Wednesday with the thermometer reading 95 degrees and a heat index of 104 degrees.
Pete Yorgen, 27, is a receiver on the Legends roster who said there’s no big secret to staying cool, but there is work and preparation to be done.
“Obviously we’re playing on synthetic turf, so it’s a lot warmer,” he said. “I think today they said the heat index was around 104 to 105, and with grass it’s 40 to 50 degrees warmer. It’s smoking in here.
The main thing for athletes like Yorgen is hydration, he said, which he and his teammates say means drinking plenty of water before, during and after the game.
“Today I had a towel wrapped around my neck and over my head trying to cool off,” he said. “With the grass, our uniforms, our equipment and the lack of shade on the pitch, it makes us much hotter. Even taking the necessary precautions, it doesn’t prevent guys from cramping and overheating.
Yorgen said athletes develop an ability to handle heat better than most people.
“We play there, we train there. We are still outside,” he said. “You get used to it. Playing on grass really gets you used to it. We prepare for heat waves and cold spells. We expect them in baseball.
Dr. Terry Bunn, professor of epidemiology and environmental health at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health, directs the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center. A program grant that Bunn’s department receives comes from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and funds Kentucky’s Occupational Safety and Health Surveillance Program.
“As part of this program, we conduct surveillance of worker injuries, illnesses and fatalities that occur in the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” Bunn said. “We produce hazard alerts based on what we see in recent data and the goal of these hazard alerts is to provide them to employers across the state to use in their worker safety training. .”
The center generates a hazard alert in 2019 on working in extreme heat and humidity.
“In this hazard alert, we said that between 2016 and 2018, 242 Kentucky workers visited the emergency department due to heat-related injuries and illnesses,” she said. “I just had my epidemiologist look at the data for 2021, and in 2021 we had 63 emergency room visits to hospitals in Kentucky for heat-related illnesses among workers.”
The alert also included recommendations for preventing heat-related illnesses, such as wearing loose, light-colored clothing to avoid trapping heat when working outdoors.
“Don’t wear anything that can inhibit the ability to sweat while you’re at work,” she said. “We also recommend scheduling your heaviest and most physically demanding activities early or late in the day when the temperature and heat index are lower. We also recommend that you drink, if you are outdoors, at least two glasses of water per hour. If the heat index is over 100 degrees, we recommend that you drink four cups of water per hour when working outdoors. We’ve also recommended that employers whose employees are just starting to work in the heat acclimatize them to these temperatures slowly by giving them plenty of breaks and plenty of water while working. The same applies to employees who can return to work after a prolonged absence.
Bunn also recommends that employees be trained in first aid and that medical supplies be available if needed.
As for athletes, Bunn said playing a sport is considered strenuous physical activity, and for baseball players like Yorgen, she said it was essential to ensure there was a rest period, for example between the sleeves.
“Additionally, athletes need to make sure they drink plenty of fluids and watch themselves while they play,” she said. “They should tell a coach, trainer or teammate immediately if they have any symptoms of heat exhaustion, heat stroke or any type of heat illness.”
Bunn said the current heat wave should be taken “very seriously”.
Bunn said some things to consider when trying to prevent heat-related illnesses are paying attention to environmental conditions such as air temperature, humidity, whether the area is in direct sunlight and air speed, which means determining if there is enough wind to allow cooling. .
“Some of the heavy work and physical activities that will really increase that metabolic rate and make you more susceptible to heat-related illnesses include climbing stairs, ladders, ramps, shoveling or heavy digging,” a Bunn said. “It would also include using things like using a hammer. If you do a lot of masonry work involving stone or brick, or if you have to fight fires, you should wear heavy equipment and protective clothing.
Other jobs that could be hampered by extreme heat and lead to high metabolic rate are roofing, landscaping, lumber activities, welding and cement mixing, Bunn said.
“Some heat exhaustion symptoms to look for are throbbing, heavy sweating, feeling extremely weak or tired, dizziness, and nausea,” Bunn said. “You might also become more irritable and start breathing quickly and shallowly. The result would be a slightly elevated body temperature, so you should also have a thermometer handy. When we talk about heatstroke, what you ultimately want to avoid are elevated body temperatures. Some symptoms of heatstroke are confusion, loss of coordination, hot, dry skin, profuse sweating, a throbbing headache, and eventually you may have seizures or fall into a coma.
“Make sure your supervisors are trained to recognize the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke so they are able to respond in a timely manner and get immediate medical attention for that person, this worker or that athlete,” she said.
Legends are in action almost every day for a week and a half. Temperatures will remain high for many of these days.