Seminar to help outside workers keep cool

Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services personnel are offering a seminar on staying well, despite the high temperatures — recognizing a need to educate employees on the dangers of working outside in the Georgia heat.

The first class was held June 3, and the second will be held Friday. The seminar is considered a safety initiative which is available to any local business, community organization, church group or neighborhood association.

Clayton County has experienced almost two weeks of temperatures above 90 degrees. Experts at the Centers for Disease Control recommend staying inside, drinking plenty of fluids and scheduling outdoor activities carefully.

But people who are required to work outside have to learn how to take special precautions to avoid getting sick from too much sun.

Samuel Coger, facilities maintenance director for Clayton County Public Schools, asked about getting building and maintenance workers educated.

"Mr. Coger's 150 employees work in austere conditions that can leave one suffering from heat-related conditions ranging from dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke which can result in death," said Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services Capt. Walter Barber.

As part of the fire department's Public Affairs Division, Barber structured the class for the building and maintenance employees as part of the department's commitment to public outreach, said Battalion Chief Jacque Feilke.

The Centers for Disease Control specifies the at-risk group as being the elderly, very young and people with mental illness and chronic diseases. However, experts note that even young and healthy people can get sick from the heat if they participate in strenuous physical activities during the hot weather. Firefighters can take the heat with the best of them, so who better to teach others how to handle the hot summer months?

"As a firefighter, working in high heat is an environment we are all too familiar with," said Barber. "Thus, we can relate to the conditions facing our fellow county employees who have to be outside in the heat while performing a labor-intense activity."

The short, interactive seminar focuses on prevention of heat-related illnesses. Participants will also learn how to recognize and treat heat-related illnesses in others.

"The goal is to provide not just the employees of building maintenance with the tools and ability to recognize heat-related illnesses but also a means which to prevent them," said Barber. "With the high temperatures of summer upon us, it is vitally important for everyone, especially those who cannot avoid being in the sun, to take the necessary precautions to ensure their safety and that of those around them."

For more information, contact the Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services Public Affairs Division at (770) 473-7833.