Record hot sun in the US, workers burned skin, worried about dying while working


Juan Gutierrez and colleagues work in the hot sun. Photo: NYT.
Juan Gutierrez and colleagues work in the hot sun. Photo: NYT.

Outdoor workers who worry about fainting or dying on the job are more common on days when the weather is hotter than 40 degrees Celsius.

As the sun came out on a record hot day, sweat seeped through the shirts of Juan Gutierrez and his team of construction workers. The temperature is 33 degrees Celsius and workers are racing to build the wooden frames.

Working in the hot sun burns skin

Gutierrez, 22, who has been undocumented since he arrived in the US at the age of four, said: "Your skin is on fire, you have to cover everything from the sun. That's the job you have to do. do. You have no other choice."

After starting work before dawn to escape the heat, Gutierrez and his construction team colleagues climbed down from a rooftop in suburban Phoenix. They reverse-engineered bottles of mineral water and sports drinks.

When the sun is brighter, they wear long dresses and woven hats, but these hardly help.

Construction workers don't have the option of working in an air-conditioned office. Instead, they worry about fainting or dying on the job, as days when climates over 40 degrees Celsius are more and more common.

One of the members of the construction team was dizzy and nearly fell off the roof the other day. Not even a shadow of a tree remained, where the houses were now. So they took refuge in the shade of half-built houses. Their work is paid from 15 to 20 USD/hour.

Work these days is plentiful, but also brutal.

Home prices around Phoenix have increased by as much as 30% over the past year to an average of $390,000, and homes are selling faster than last year. Tech workers as well as manufacturing workers have flocked to the Southwest during the pandemic, creating a spike in housing demand. “We have a lot of people who want a home in this community,” said Mayor Kate Gallego of Phoenix.

Joaquin Robledo, 24, and others in the group who immigrated from the Mexican state of Sinaloa said: "When it's difficult, you think of another job. But you have no other choice because you don't have a permit. sheet".

Drought, wildfire and record heat

Across the West, the housing market and temperatures were scorching hot. A harsh spring with drought, wildfires and record heat.

But that hasn't slowed the rapid growth of cities like Phoenix, where newcomers are fueling a construction craze - as well as soaring housing costs leaving many residents increasingly desperate to find a place where they can afford to live.

As a result, a dual crisis is unfolding: a housing crisis and a heat crisis.

According to real estate website Zillow, rents in Phoenix have risen about 8% during the pandemic, the highest of any major city.

Castro said he can no longer afford the $1,100 his landlords are demanding. So his wife and children, now homeless, had to stay in an un-air-conditioned car garage with her parents.

Castro himself was wandering, staying at relatives' houses and also spending days on the street. Castro gets ice glasses from the convenience store staff or gets free bottled water from homeless advocates.

Across the Phoenix area, half of the 323 people who died from record heat last year were homeless.

As temperatures spiked to a record 48C last Thursday and continued to soar throughout the week, those struggling with the dawn-to-evening heat said they longed for some relief.

Google Tech News

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