(Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
On Monday, while working at a house in Sikeston, Maxwell took advantage of the surrounding trees and positioned his ladder in the shade to avoid the sun during peak hours.
As Maxwell worked, the red bandana tied around his head caught any sweat that trickled down his forehead, and sitting on the back of his work truck was a bright orange jug full of Gatorade to keep himself hydrated.
"Luckily, the good Lord has blessed us with a breeze today," said Maxwell as he took a break Monday morning.
While the heat over the last few days has been pretty unbearable, Maxwell said he remembers worse.
"The summer of 1980 was a really hot year and the middle of the 1970s. We were working on what is now the Monsanto building and it was in triple digits for days," Maxwell recalled.
But working in scorching heat is nothing new for Maxwell -- or anyone else working outdoors.
"I just take it easy and drink a lot of water," said Jim Russell, a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service in Sikeston, who was clad in a wide-brimmed hat and carrying a towel.
And Ryan Roberts, who was working in Sikeston, admitted it does help to start work early in the morning.
"It's cooler, but the humidity is still bad, even at 7 a.m.," noted Roberts of Semo Masonry Inc. in Dexter. "You kind of just adapt to it and make sure you drink lots of fluids."
Typically if a person can get done by 2 p.m., they can really beat the heat, Maxwell said.
Working earlier shifts is also something Missouri Department of Transportation crews have been doing since the heat kicked in, said Stan Johnson, area engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation's Southeast District.
"We're starting in the morning at 5 to get an early start and beat the heat," Johnson said.
An excessive heat warning was issued Monday with highs of 94 to 99 degrees and a heat index of 107-112 degrees forecast. Today is expected to very hot and humid with highs in the mid 90s and the heat index between 100 and 105, according to the National Weather Service.
"It's hot enough out there that if somebody's not careful, there's always a possibility of someone getting sick," Johnson said.
Johnson said he advises MoDOT's road crews to get some water and try to cool down about three times and hour.
"We encourage them to plenty of fluid, keep hydrated and look out for each other," Johnson said.
But relief is on the way, said David Humphrey, lead meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Paducah, Ky.
"Front showers are expected (tonight), and after that, it should cool off with Thursday and Friday highs in the mid to upper 80s," Humphrey said.
A period of really hot and humid days are typical in the summer and are often referred to as the "dog days of summer," Humphrey said. Despite the triple-
digit weather, no records have been broken for temperature highs this summer, he noted.
Just everybody should keep being careful, avoid the hottest part of day and stay out of sun as much and drink fluids, Humphrey recommended.
"I just base it on the way I feel," said Maxwell about knowing when to take a break. "When you feel like your starting to get sick, get in a shady spot and just use common sense. Drink fluids and know your body."
What Maxwell doesn't recommend is going into the air conditioning right away for a break or after a day's work.
"It tends to shock the system," Maxwell said. "Instead look for a cool, shady spot (outdoors)."
Maxwell, who works for Fabrite Welding and Metal Works, advised others to know the warning signs of heat exhaustion like prickly skin, nausea, weakness and dizziness.
And Maxwell knows all about the warning signs -- he had a heat stroke when he was a teenager.
"It sneaks up on you," Maxwell said. "And before you know it, it takes its toll."