This story is written by Red Cross volunteer Allen Crabtree.
Temperatures have been hitting 100° F in Joplin, MO this week. It is now 40 days after an EF5 tornado struck destroying more than 30% of the city. The entire region has responded to help the battered residents cleaning up debris and getting their lives back to normal, and the American Red Cross has been there from the day that the tornado hit with shelter, food and water, clean-up supplies and emotional support for Joplin’s residents.
The Red Cross has a double concern about residents and contractors working to clean up debris during this period of high heat advisories. Red Cross emergency response vehicles (ERVs) have been distributing water and ice throughout neighborhoods and cautioning workers to be heat-safe and cleanup-safe.
“Everyone is at risk when temperatures rise above 90 degrees,” said Brian Keath, Director of Emergency Services for the Greater Ozarks Chapter of the American Red Cross. “This week has been especially stressful for workers out in the heat raking and shoveling tornado debris. They need to be aware that they are susceptible to heat and heat-related illnesses, and need to take care of themselves.”
“Our crew is demolishing several homes that the tornado destroyed,” said Gary Sommer, contractor from Osceola who has been working in Joplin for the last eleven days. “With this heat, we start work early in the morning and take breaks.” Following their own advice, Sommer and his three crewmates took a breather from their work to get cold drinks from the Red Cross ERV as it came down the street.
The American Red Cross recommends that everyone try to stay cool and safe during hot weather. Dress for the heat, drink plenty of water or juice, eat small meals and eat more often, slow down, work during the coolest part of the day, and look out for co-workers for signs of heat-related illnesses.