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Outside workers take precautions to stay cool during Pittsburgh heat wave

How do crews who work outside stay cool?
How do crews who work outside stay cool? 02:16

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The 90-degree temperatures this week are especially a concern for those who work outside. 

Road crews take the brunt of the heat on the streets, while roofing and construction crews take the blazing sun from up high.

"The extreme heat is a stealth killer," said Joseph Potocnik, the owner of JP Roofing and Metal Buildings.

He said when they're working on the roof, it's 10 degrees hotter up high, and sometimes with no shade. That means their workers take extra precautions.

"We bring plenty of water, plenty of Gatorade, we had a meeting last week preparing for the heat this week," Potocnik said. 

Crews of about 10 people would take turns with breaks on Tuesday morning. Sometimes four would come down at a time recover in the shade, rehydrate, then return to work.

"We tell the guys it's not a matter of getting this done in one day. We can't do it in a day, your health and your life is more is more important," said Potocnik.

They also protect themselves from top to bottom, "wearing hats to protect yourself from the heat beating on your face," Potocnik said. 

The motto is "start early, end early." Most times work starts at 7 in the morning, but it gets hot by 10 a.m. 

"You can get most of the work done in the morning. It does heat up. In temperatures like this you're reaching 75, 80 degrees by 10 o'clock," Potocnik said. 

If the workers are feeling nauseous, they come down from the roof immediately. It's words of wisdom for working in hot weather that apply to everyone this week and beyond.

OSHA suggests not relying on the heat index to assess how dangerous it is working outside. Outdoor workers can die from heat stroke, even when the heat index is only 86 degrees.

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