As delivery trucks barrel down the street, you may notice the drivers cruising along with doors left wide open as they move from stop to stop. For some, that is their only relief as they carry packages in the high heat of the summer months.
The famous brown delivery vans from UPS do not have air conditioning according to Dan McMackin, public relations manager for UPS. Having served as a driver for five years, he understands the conditions drivers deal with and how to be prepared for the sweltering conditions.
McMackin explained that since the trucks stop so frequently, the doors stay open much of the time they are working.
However, not all drivers operate the same, drivers in another uniform color operate under different conditions.
According to the Senior Manager for Safety, Health and Fire Prevention at FedEx Express, Keith Toperzer, 95 percent of FedEd Express vehicles have air conditioning with the remaining five percent set to be retrofitted.
Still, precautionary measures are taken by both companies to keep drivers adequately hydrated. FedEx keeps large water containers in each work area. UPS stresses the importance of hydrating before work begins and addresses heat safety in daily morning meetings with employees.
McMackin explained that what an employee does off the clock can be just as integral to staying safe as what they do when in uniform.
"The biggest challenge is remembering to drink lots of water in advance of hot work days, even as much as 24 hours in advance," he said.
Preparation is key for many aspects of the job. UPS educates drivers on heat-related illnesses and what symptoms to watch out for. They also encourage drivers to maintain a healthy diet.
Lifting and carrying packages in all weather conditions means that drivers need to adapt and stay fit.
FedEx, while echoing many of the same principles, stressed that safety is the company's core goal.
If a courier does become ill, part of their training is to pull over and seek help if necessary.
Uniforms are adapted between seasons, with shorts and a short-sleeved shirts the summer staple for both companies.
Still, a muggy summer day might not be as harsh as the delivery location itself.
McMackin, when working as a driver in Wisconsin, had to deliver to a foundry where temperatures were boiling. As a result of the heat, suddenly the outside temperature in the 90s didn't feel so bad, as temperatures inside the factory were much worse.
"When I would make a delivery there, I found out just how hot it can get," he said. "After being in the foundry, it felt cool outside."
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