People who work outside have unenviable jobs these days. But some indoor jobs could wilt a cactus.
Charles Brown likes to put new hires to work at Zandee Manufacturing during the winter. When the weather gets the way it's been lately, he'll go through as many as five before he finds one who will stay with the aluminum foundry in Forest Hill.
"Aluminum melts at about 1,080 degrees," he said. "But we pour at about 1,300 degrees."
His employees make aluminum stirrups for saddles, rail fittings for stadium bleachers and other products, and they know how to survive in the heat.
"They take lots of salt tablets," Brown said. "You can't keep water cold in a fountain, but there's lots of bottled water in a freezer. They take it to their workstation and drink it as it melts. They put frozen gel packs in their pockets. Some even put a T-shirt in the freezer."
While the temperature inside the foundry surpassed 150 degrees Thursday, the outside temperature of 108 was another record for the Metroplex.
Thursday's high breaks the record of 107 set in 2008 and also marked the 34th consecutive day of triple-digit temperatures at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. Records were falling statewide as well. Officials say Texas is now experiencing the worst one-year drought on record.
And July was the state's hottest month in 116 years of record-keeping, according to John Nielsen-Gammon, state climatologist and professor of atmospheric sciences at Texas A&M University.
The average temperature was 87.2 degrees, breaking the record of 86.5 degrees, set in 1998, Nielsen-Gammon said.
Joe Harris, a National Weather Service meteorologist, said North Texas will continue to suffer for the foreseeable future.
"There could be some days that the high temperatures do cool back to near normal because of thunderstorms that might come in next week," he said. "I'm not sure of the exact dates."
The forecast highs for the next six days are 107, 106, 105, 105, 104 and 103.
As days get warmer, Will Frary opens his Grapevine blacksmith shop earlier so he can close in the afternoon if the tourist count is low.
It can be 120 degrees or more in the room where three forges get up to 2,500 degrees.
The city likes authenticity in its attractions, and air conditioning wasn't widespread back in the heyday of Frary's occupation.
"They want it to look like the 1880s," he said.
However, Frary makes concessions for survival. He keeps a couple of big fans going to circulate the air, and he has plans for something better.
"I fixed up an air conditioner in the rafters," he said. "We're hiding and disguising it and will have a duct coming down on me. It isn't ready yet."
Until then, Frary does what he can to stay cool.
"I drink a lot of water," he said. "I have a wet cloth on my neck and I stand in the fan."
Where 90° is nice
Fort Worth metal sculptor Rebecca Low works in her studio almost every day but Sunday. Her art is hot -- literally.
"Right now I'm working on copper using oxyacetylene," she said.
The cutting torch burns at 6,000 degrees, and copper melts at about 2,000 degrees. Low describes her studio as "warmish."
"The temperature right now is 108," she said Wednesday afternoon. "I wear T-shirts and shorts, have a wet rag around my neck and stand in front of a swamp cooler."
Low said such conditions would be more of a hardship if she didn't love what she does.
Despite loving her job, Low said the key is to drink a lot of fluids and take breaks in her gallery, where the temperature stays a refreshing 90 degrees.
"That feels good after coming in from 110," she said.
The iceman worketh
Doing the opposite of working inside hot buildings is Tom Moore, owner of Southwest Ice Co. in Fort Worth.
But he insists that even though his plant stays at about 60 degrees -- his freezer is around 25 -- his job isn't any easier when hot weather hits. Orders climb right along with the mercury.
"It's a horrible job to have when it's this hot," he said. "I work from daylight to way past dark seven days a week. It's a life-consuming job this time of year."
Moore said he told his family and friends weeks ago that he wouldn't see them for a while.
"I get in around 6 a.m., and last night I got home about 11 p.m.," he said.
Most of the ice he sells is bagged, but Moore said a lot of people get blocks for their swimming pools.
"We make a 300-pound block if they want to float it in their pool," he said. "I get 10 or 15 calls a day from people to cool their pools down. I have a pool at my house, but I don't get to use it. If I'm in the pool, chances are it's in the middle of the night."
Terry Evans, 817-390-7620