In the wake of Harvey and Irma, humanitarian relief workers rushed in to Texas and Florida to provide aid. While the whole nation mourns the loss of life, the property devastation, and the suffering left in the wake of these powerful hurricanes, we also take pride in the thousands of workers, soldiers, utility linemen and volunteers who did not hesitate to go where help is needed most.
In Texas, for example, Governor Greg Abbott deployed the entire Texas National Guard to help with rescue and relief efforts, some 12,000 soldiers. Initially focused on search and rescue due to extreme flooding, the Guard then switched to critical life support missions and distribution point operations to get critical supplies, food, and water to the people that needed these items.
In Florida, extreme heat is making relief efforts a matter of life and death. While linemen and utility workers from all over the United States rush to restore power to the millions of people without, others distribute water and volunteer at shelters to try to blunt the suffering of those whose homes were either damaged or destroyed by Irma’s impact. In Hollywood, Florida, eight senior citizens aged 71 to 99 lost their lives due to extreme heat in a nursing home without air conditioning. This incident is currently being investigated.
There are heat-related dangers not only for the people who experienced the hurricanes and need aid, but for those who arrive to help. Studies show, for example, that nearly 20% of total injuries reported in disaster relief are due to heat related injuries. For women, it’s more than 40%1. This is often complicated by many factors:
- Workers (both troops and volunteers) are not acclimated to the heat.
- Power is often off, making A/C impossible.
- There is often poor access to drinking water and shade.
- Relief workers put in extremely long working hours.
- There are often underlying factors such as diabetes, weight, and prescriptions.
OSHA’s recommendation for avoiding heat injury is water, rest, and shade. They suggest at least four cups of water per hour, and frequent rest breaks in shaded areas with cool mist stations or personal cooling equipment. Breezer Mobile Cooling understands the severe dangers that heat can pose, so we are working with our distribution partners to stage and provide Power Breezer portable cooling units for disaster relief. As a Florida company, we know that extreme heat and humidity isn’t something that can be ignored, which is why we are so grateful to the utility workers for their efforts and the long shifts they’re putting in to get all Floridians relief.
Following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the Breezer team wants to take a moment to salute all the workers and volunteers from around the nation who’ve arrived in our home state of Florida, and in Texas, to help.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
 Risk of Heat-Related Injury to Disaster Relief Workers in a Slow-Onset Flood DisasterDellinger, Ann M. PhD, MPH; Kachur, Patrick S. MD, MPH; Sternberg, Edith MPH; Russell, Julie PhD, MPH,Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine: July 1996 – Volume 38 – Issue 7 – pp 689-692