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City takes steps to protect workers and citizens from heat

The City of Kansas City, Mo., is taking action to prevent heat-related illnesses from striking its work force and to comply with Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations. Some departments are adjusting work schedules for labor employees and making sure workers have access to water, as well as opportunities to cool off with adequate breaks.

The Aviation Department is offering summer hours (early start times) to employees who want them. The department also has provided employees with individual water coolers, hydrating liquids, lightweight cotton shirts and wide-brimmed cotton hats. Supervisors and employees try to schedule the most labor intensive duties during the early morning hours and take adequate breaks. Most enclosed aviation equipment is air-conditioned.

The Parks and Recreation Department adjusted its work hours at the beginning of the summer to reduce the number of hours labor employees work in the hottest part of the day. Most Parks and Recreation Department labor employees work from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Exceptions to this include field units that have other needs and operational issues to address. This includes golf courses, which start even earlier to prepare the courses for early morning tournaments. Other adjustments include having crews mow shaded parks and park areas in the hottest part of the day, rather than spending their entire day in direct sunlight and heat. In addition, the department’s work crews are diligent about filling up their water coolers each morning, and supervisors are emphasizing the importance of drinking enough water each day and taking multiple breaks.

The Public Works Department is maintaining a regular work schedule from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., because materials such as rock, asphalt and concrete are not readily available at other times. However, the department is shifting schedules for pouring concrete so it can cure in the cooler part of the day. The department also is providing air-conditioned truck cabs and other equipment for employees to cool off, and providing water and hydrating liquids throughout the day. Solid Waste Division crews are working regular shifts which begin at 7 a.m. Extra trucks are being put on routes to allow them to finish as soon as possible. Crews carry large containers of water on the trucks and are reminded to take frequent drinks of water and hydrating liquids. Parking Services Division staff work from air-conditioned vehicles and are advised to drink plenty of fluids to remain hydrated.

The Water Services Department has an extreme weather condition policy that has measures for extreme cold and extreme heat conditions. The hot weather procedure is implemented when the official temperature at KCI Airport reaches 95 degrees or there is a heat index of 105 degrees. Under those conditions, employees may be given a "hot option day." This allows them to perform alternative forms of work not impacted by extreme heat conditions. However, public safety, health and other customer needs will not be compromised. The policy also prescribes that employees take these precautions in hot conditions:

1. Drink plenty of fluids.
2. Wear cool, loose-fitting clothing.
3. Utilize fans to increase air flow if available.
4. Work in shaded areas when possible.
5. Utilize more breaks as required (such as alternative work groups).
6. Recognize heat stress symptoms: heat cramps and muscle spasms and profuse sweating, weakness, dizziness, nausea, headaches, or cool moist skin.

The Health Department will issue a Heat Advisory when the heat index reaches 95 degrees by 11 a.m. at KCI Airport. Once issued, a Heat Advisory remains in effect for the rest of the summer.

Ten things you can do to protect your health during times of extreme heat:

1. Never leave children, pets or others alone in closed vehicles: within minutes, the temperature inside a car can reach over 140 degrees and this can kill within minutes.
2. Avoid too much sunshine, and postpone outdoor activities and games.
3. Avoid extreme temperature changes, such as a taking a cool shower immediately after coming inside from hot temperatures.
4. Stay indoors as much as possible.
5. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to a public building every day for several hours.
6. Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs, to reduce heat and save money.
7. Conserve electricity not needed to keep you cool.
8. If you have to work outside, take frequent breaks, rest in the shade, and drink plenty of water.
9. Dress for the weather: wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing;
lightweight, light-colored clothing reflects heat and helps maintain normal body
temperature. If you have to be outside, cover as much skin as possible to avoid
sunburn. Protect your face and head with a wide-brimmed hat.
10. Check on your neighbors, friends and relatives at least twice a day (morning and night).

Cooling centers only will be opened after a Heat Warning is issued, but there are area facilities where citizens can go for relief from the heat. The following are City community centers:

Tony Aguirre Community Center – 2050 West Pennway, Monday through Friday: 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Sunday: closed.

Brush Creek Community Center – 3801 Emanuel Cleaver II Blvd., Monday through Thursday: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday: closed.

Gregg Community Center & Klice Fitness Center – 1600 John "Buck" O'Neil Way, Monday through Friday: 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday: closed.

Hillcrest Community Center – 10401 Hillcrest Road, Monday through Thursday: 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday: closed.

Kansas City North Community Center – 3930 N.E. Antioch Road, Monday through Friday: 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday: closed.

Line Creek Community Center – 5940 N.W. Waukomis Drive, Monday through Thursday: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday: 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Saturday: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Marlborough Community Center – 8200 Paseo, Monday through Thursday: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday: closed.

Southeast Community Center – 3601 E. 63rd St., Monday through Thursday: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday and Sunday: closed.

Westport-Roanoke Community Center – 3601 Roanoke Road, Monday through Friday: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday: closed.

For more information about heat-related illnesses, visit the CDC’s Web page about extreme heat

Heat information also can be found on the Health Department's Web page ( For general information on heat signs and symptoms, call the 3-1-1 Action Center at 311 or (816) 513-1313.

For heat information and community resources, call the Health Department's community partner United Way 2-1-1, at 211 or (816) 474-5112.

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