Construction workers, the elderly most at risk for heat stroke

Posted: Updated:
By Mike Gertzman By Mike Gertzman

PHOENIX -- Arizona summers can be deadly for certain portions of the population.

The Arizona Department of Health Services released a study nearly 2 decades in the making, of Arizona’s summer heat.
Not surprisingly, some of the people most at risk for heat exhaustion and even death are the elderly, and those who have to spend extended amounts of time outdoors.
The study was conducted between 1992 and 2009, and during that time Arizona averaged more than 100 deaths per year related to heat exposure. The elderly made up more than half of all heat related fatalities.
Also at risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke are people who have to spend most of the day outside, like the homeless.
“I ride the Light Rail and go to the mall. You can even dump water on yourself, if you have extra water to do that,” said John Leumeux, a Valley homeless man, of his daily battle to beat the heat.
People who work outside, like construction workers, are also at risk. Construction crews outside were feeling the heat Monday, the hottest day of 2012 so far, at 112 degrees.
“They say how do you do it? We’re crazy out here, but you have to make a living somehow,” said Sammy Longoria, a construction worker who was building a house in triple digit temperatures.
“We’ll stop for a little bit, go in the shade, then we’ll have to go out and do it again,” said Longoria.  
Taking breaks in the shade is recommended by the Department of Health Services to help ward off heat related illness. Experts also say people should drink plenty of water, and avoid the sun at peak times.