B-roll Video Credit: Joseph Foulk and Ernesto Sanchez
CHINO, Calif. — Alongside dairy farms and roaming horses, a slow wind stirs up the dirt as swarms of flies gather in the heat. It’s 10:30 a.m. on Monday and the temperature gauge in the Southern California Edison truck says it is already 90 degrees in Chino.
A foreman, two linemen and an apprentice gather at the truck for a safety discussion before starting today’s work. Over the next several hours, they will be removing poles, transformers and spans of electrical wires.
“I’ve already let my guys know that this could be a long day,” said Alex Yanez, an SCE field supervisor out of the Ontario Service Center and a former lineman himself. “Especially Tuesday and Wednesday.”
Continuous days of heat in Southern California usually mean long days for these journeymen. And more hot days are forecast as the National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning until Wednesday, especially for the valleys and mountain areas.
As Yanez reaches into his cooler for more bottles of water, he reminds the crew members to take several breaks during the day as they work in the heat. In addition to their fire-resistant clothing, gloves and hard hat, the journeymen carry between 30-50 pounds of tools each as they climb the poles.
“We are working together and helping each other out,” said Yanez, noting that SCE will have extra crews on standby during the heat wave, in case there are additional outages. “Safety is always on our mind. We want to make sure we send our guys home safely to their families.”
During periods of extensive heat, where even during the evenings it can still be quite hot, equipment doesn’t have time to cool down and can sometimes overheat and need to be repaired. It’s similar to a car that has been running continuously for several hours and sometimes can overheat.
Yanez understands that being without power for any length of time is an inconvenience for customers. But he wants them to know that the crews are working as quickly and safely as possible to restore power.
“Our goal is to stay safe no matter what work we are doing,” he said.
In addition to keeping blinds closed, Yanez encourages customers to stay in the shade, if possible, and to drink lots of water. Malls and libraries are also a nice refuge during a heat wave.
Here are some additional safety tips during a heat wave:
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water regularly, even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
- Limit your exposure to the sun, if possible. If you must be outside, be sure to wear a hat, use sunscreen and dress in loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible.
- Use a buddy system when working in extreme heat and remember to take frequent breaks. Try to avoid strenuous work during the hottest part of the day.
- Check on elderly family, friends and neighbors who live alone or do not have air conditioning to make sure they’re safe.
- Never leave children or pets in enclosed vehicles, even with the windows "cracked" or open.