The District’s soaring hot temperatures of late have city officials implementing plans to make sure residents are cool and safe.
“It is so hot I decided to get my grandkids and go to the swimming pool,” said Jemell Fields, a Ward 7 resident. Fields took her progenies to the Rosedale Pool in Northeast on July 24 to cool off and to shake the heat.
Fields joined dozens of people at Rosedale and at pools throughout the District as a means of dealing with recent consecutive days of temperatures over 90 degrees and in most cases, over 100 degrees with the heat index included. On July 21, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser activated the city’s heat emergency plan which opens up cooling centers for residents to be comfortable. Cooling centers include library branches and recreation centers and other government buildings that have the capacity to keep residents comfortable. The mayor also extended the operating hours of some of the city’s pools, including Rosedale’s, until 8 p.m. from July 22-24 to help people cope with the high temperatures.
On the day Fields went to Rosedale, the temperature reached 97 with a heat index of 104 at Reagan National Airport, the defining point for the District. The hot temperatures appeared to taper off on July 25 when a strong thunderstorm came into the Washington area. However, meteorologists and weather experts forecast the excessive heat will resurrect in early August and pop up during that month.
In her July 21 weekly e-newsletter, Bowser offered advice for residents dealing with the heat. She encouraged people to stay indoors when possible and find places in the shade or with air conditioning, drink plenty of fluids and make sure to limit the intake of alcohol, caffeine or large amounts of sugar and wear lightweight, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing. The mayor said pets should be kept indoors, walked early in the day and not left inside of vehicles. She also advised checking in with family, friends and neighbors, particularly seniors.
Medical experts say excessive unprotected exposure to hot temperatures can cause heat exhaustion. Heat exhaustion encompasses extreme fatigue, sweating, shallow breathing, pale skin and vomiting. If left untreated, heat exhaustion could lead to heat stroke that includes a body temperature above 103 degrees, chest pain, confusion and a rapid pulse. Bowser stressed the importance of residents staying safe.
“Let’s work together to stay cool, stay safe and beat the heat,” the mayor said.
Fields appreciated the Rosedale pool staying open until 8 p.m.
“It is great being in the water with these hot temperatures,” she said. “The water keeps you cool. But when you step out of the water, you can really feel the heat. I do think the city did the right think keeping the pools open until 8, though.”
Earlier that day, Tilahun Dejene decided to beat the heat by sitting in the reading room of the Dorothy I. Height/Benning Library branch in Northeast. Dejene, who also lives in Ward 7, joins Fields in praising the District government’s approach to dealing with the heat wave.
“If people want to beat the heat, there are many different ways to do that,” he said. “They can go into the woods, go into the shade or just stay at home. I know people think that this is hot but I am from Ethiopia and I know what heat really feels like.”