The heat advisory for the Washington D.C. and Baltimore regions has been extended to cover the overnight hours tonight and Thursday through 10 p.m.
Overnight heat indices are unlikely to fall below 90 degrees in urban areas and below 80 elsewhere, offering little relief - especially for those without air conditioning and a way to cool off (e.g. the homeless).
On Thursday, another scorcher is expected, with afternoon temperatures in the upper 90s to near 100 and heat indicates around 105.
Hot day time temperatures represent a particular hazard for outdoor workers.
According to the Department of Labor, heat-related illness afflicts thousands of outdoor workers each year and has killed more than 30 annually since 2003. The Department wants this to stop and has launched a campaign to confront the risks posed by extreme heat.
The campaign, led by DOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in partnership with the National Weather Service (NWS), has employed a simple message for workers: “Water, rest, and shade.”
“For outdoor workers, ‘water, rest and shade’ are three words that can make the difference between life and death,” Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis said.
As part of the campaign, OSHA has developed educational and media resources in both English and Spanish. It has also released a heat index app for iPhone and Android which calculates the heat index for a given location and displays a risk level for outdoor workers as well as action steps for staying safe.
Dr. David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor of Occupational Safety and Health, stressed the need for the employees and employers to work together in coping with excessive heat.
“Employers have to cooperate [in enabling workers to cool down on hot days],” Michaels said during a press call to print and broadcast media. “Employees should call OSHA if they need help.”
OSHA’s efforts to educate both workers and employers about the dangers of extreme heat extend to grassroots levels.
“We have outreach to community organizations, we’ve held meetings in rural areas,” Michaels said. “We will do everything we can to make sure workers are safe.”
The NWS is assisting OSHA by including messages about the danger of heat in advisory and warning statements, said Eli Jacks, chief of fire and public weather services at NWS.
For example, in the latest heat advisory for Washington and Baltimore, the accompanying text includes a paragraph that reads:
TO REDUCE RISK DURING OUTDOOR WORK...THE OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION RECOMMENDS SCHEDULING FREQUENT REST BREAKS IN SHADED OR AIR CONDITIONED ENVIRONMENTS. ANYONE OVERCOME BY HEAT SHOULD BE MOVED TO A COOL AND SHADED LOCATION. HEAT STROKE IS AN EMERGENCY - CALL 9 1 1.