D.C. residents may experience a heat index — which measures how the air feels, when factoring in humidity — of up to 107 degrees Wednesday as an intense heat wave sweeps across the region. 

The District saw its hottest recorded Labor Day this year as temperatures hit 99 degrees in parts of the region on Monday, WTOP reported. Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a “Hot Weather Emergency” on Monday, opening up additional air-conditioned cooling centers around the city . 

The D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation also announced that two of its public pools—Oxon Run in Ward 8 and Hearst in Ward 3 — will remain open until summer’s end on Sept. 21. More than 15 spray parks will also stay open through the rest of the season, including Fort Davis, Hillcrest, Turkey Thicket, Edgewood and Petworth. 

The unseasonable temperatures pose serious challenges for the start of the school year. WUSA9 reported that some students and teachers face blistering classrooms without air conditioning as dozens of schools across the city wait on repairs for broken HVAC systems. 

DMV officials are also keeping a close watch on water levels in the Potomac River, FOX5 reported, as the heat wave could potentially exacerbate drought conditions impacting parts of the watershed upstream from the District. The water supply has not reached anywhere close to emergency lows, but the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin recently launched drought operations for the first time since 2010. 

The scorching start to September comes after a summer of heat waves that set records globally and nationally. Climate change, caused by adding heat-trapping gasses to the atmosphere when we burn fossil fuels like oil and gas, increases the likelihood of extreme heat events, particularly during unusual times of year. 

Stay Safe and Take Care of Your Neighbors

Extreme heat poses serious, sometimes deadly, risks. According to the Centers for Disease Control, symptoms of heat stroke — the most severe health risk caused by heat exposure — include:

Symptoms of heat stroke include:

  • Confusion, altered mental status, slurred speech
  • Loss of consciousness (coma)
  • Hot, dry skin or profuse sweating
  • Seizures
  • Very high body temperature
  • Fatal if treatment delayed

If you see someone experiencing heat stroke, call 911. When possible, move the person to a shaded, cool place, remove outer clothing and apply ice or wet cloth to skin or soak clothing with cool water. 

In a news release, Mayor Bowser recommended the following precautions for dealing with the extreme heat:

  • Staying indoors when possible: find places in the shade or with air conditioning to seek relief from the heat.  
  • Checking in on your neighbors: young children, the elderly, and those with access and functional needs are the most vulnerable in our community.    
  • Drinking plenty of fluids: increase your fluid intake but don’t drink liquids that contain alcohol, caffeine, or large amounts of sugar.    
  • Keeping pets indoors: walk pets early in the morning, give pets plenty of water and do not leave pets in vehicles, which can reach dangerous temperatures within 10 minutes. For all animal emergencies, including animals left outside in extreme temperatures or in vehicles, please call the Humane Rescue Alliance at (202) 723-5730.    
  • Wearing appropriate clothing and sunscreen: pick lightweight, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing, and wide-brimmed hats.    

Cooling centers, which include libraries and shelters, can be located using this map

Kayla Benjamin covers climate change & environmental justice for the Informer as a full-time reporter through the Report for America program. Prior to her time here, she worked at Washingtonian Magazine...

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