Workers at airport tarmac endure extreme temperatures as travellers try to escape the heat

Extremely hot temperatures and heat advisories are on the way, but people will still be travelling, and at the airport, workers on the tarmac have to work through these extremely hot days.

Related: NWS: Excessive Heat Warning issued for 12 Arizona counties

On June 11, we spoke with line service specialists who were out on the tarmac all day long, so that travellers at the airport can get out of town to escape the heat.

"It's miserable for sure, but you get used to the heat when you work in it for so long," said Devyn Fiala.

Fiala's line of work includes guiding planes in, helping pilots park, and making sure they are fuelled and ready to go. She and her coworkers keep the operations running smooth, and on some days, the tarmac can be up to 20 degrees hotter than it is outside.

"We drink a lot of water, electrolytes, Gatorade, and drinks we can use," said Fiala.

As for the travellers at the airport, some are heading to colder places like Cincinnati, Ohio and Oregon. In fact, a traveller heading to Oregon says temperatures in that state will be in the 50s.

Preventing heat exhaustion/heat stroke

The Arizona Department of Health Services stated the following precautions can be taken to prevent heat exhaustion or heat stroke:

  • Stay in air-conditioned buildings
  • Limit outdoor activity during the hottest part of the day (mid-day)
  • Check on at-risk friends, family, and neighbors at least twice a day
  • Drink water before, during, and after working or exercising outside

Driving in extreme temperatures

The Arizona Department of Transportation’s tips for driving in extreme temperatures include: 

Have sun protection: In addition to an umbrella, take sunscreen and a wide-brimmed hat and wear loose-fitting, light-colored cotton clothing.

Fuel up: Keep your tank at three-quarters full. Running out of gas, especially in a remote location, is dangerous in extreme heat.

Hydrate: Take a cooler to keep extra drinking water cold, and consider adding several frozen bottles of water to use for cooling off or to thaw and drink if needed. Make sure everyone, including pets, stays hydrated.

Get help: If your vehicle breaks down in extreme heat, call for assistance right away to reduce wait time, and run the AC. If the AC isn’t working, roll down all windows.

Wait safely: If the temperature inside your vehicle becomes too hot, everyone, including pets, should exit carefully and seek out or create a shaded area as far away from the travel lanes as possible. Be careful walking on the road surface, which can be hot enough to burn skin. Keep your shoes on and try to keep your pets’ paws off the pavement. If you are stopped along the highway, raise the front hood and turn on hazard lights. Please keep in mind that parking in tall brush can start a fire. 

Check your vehicle: You can help avoid breakdowns and blowouts by making sure your vehicle is in good operating condition. Check your air conditioner and coolant levels, top off any vital engine fluids and make sure your battery is up to par. Check your tire pressure, as the combination of under inflated tires and hot pavement can lead to a blowout.


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