Stretch of heat hits as area deals with COVID shutdowns, recession

Tempertures were on the rise Monday and are to continue through the rest of the week. MARSHALL GORBYSTAFF
Caption
Tempertures were on the rise Monday and are to continue through the rest of the week. MARSHALL GORBYSTAFF

Above normal temperatures in the 90s — with heat indexes making it feel like 95-100 degrees — are expected throughout this week.

The stretch of hot weather hits as the region is still adapting to coronavirus, with many pools remaining closed or offering limited capacity and outdoor businesses already facing the effects of the recession concerned about working conditions.

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The National Weather Service is predicting hot, humid and hazardous weather conditions through Friday, with temperatures finally cooling down to highs in the mid-80s this weekend, said John Franks, meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

“As we go further in time, it’s a cumulative effect. Your body doesn’t necessarily get used to the heat, it becomes more of a nagging draw on your body. So one or two days of this — not a big deal. Four or five days of this, and some people start to wilt,” he said.

Although the temperatures will be high and people need to exercise caution, Franks said the weather pattern is “not atypical” and that the temperature would need to be much higher to be in record-breaking territory.

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The National Weather Service will issue a heat advisory if the heat index reaches more than 100 degrees and a warning if it climbs above 105 degrees. But for now, Franks said people should just be aware of the cumulative effects of the heat.

“It’s a common sense approach — if you’re working outside, make sure that you’re hydrated and have a visor to cover yourself up with and you’re using sunscreen,” Franks said.

For those working outdoors, hot weeks such as this one present a challenge.

At Groundskeeper Landscaping, a commercial landscaping company based in Dayton, director of operations Myron Wheeler said crews have been coming in out of the heat around 2 or 3 p.m in order to not overexert employees.

The company has also been staggering work days and Franks said they plan to only work through Wednesday this week. Last year at this time, they were working 10 hours a day, five or six days a week.

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This, coupled with coronavirus-related restrictions that caused the company to shut down temporarily, has made for a challenging year for the industry.

“This time of year we don’t want to lay anyone off, but if this continues we’re going to have to lay some guys off, which nobody wants to do, especially if we start ramping back up,” he said. “So that’s really the only other thing we’re doing is trying to keep as many guys as we can on payroll by staggering their days and making sure they’re taking lots of breaks and drinking lots of water,” he said.

Groundskeeper Landscaping has been providing its employees with coolers of water as they go out to work for the day and has also been taking employee temperatures and washing trucks twice a day.

Jenna Hausseld, a lifeguard at Germantown Aquatic Center, said that although it is hot when working from the chair, a lifeguard has been assigned to be inside the pool to enforce social distancing guidelines, simultaneously offering reprieve from the heat.

The pool has been operating on a first-come, first-serve basis in waves that run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., 2:30-5:30 p.m. and 6-8 p.m., with the pool shutting down to be cleaned between each wave.

On hot days, typically about 50 people are at the pool during the start of the first wave, Hausseld said, and it typically reaches its capacity of 100 by the afternoon.

“With everyone being quarantined so long, it’s nice to be able to get outside just a little bit and just breathe in fresh air,” she said.

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Like Germantown Aquatic Center, many pools are operating at reduced capacity and some remain closed, leaving many people looking for other ways to cool down.

In Kettering, for example, although the city’s outdoor pool, Adventure Reef Waterpark, is closed, but the splash pad at J.F. Kennedy Park — which features things such as water cannons and water dumping buckets — is open every day from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. with capacity for 70 people, the city’s recreation superintendent Shauna Lewallen said.

The splash pad is typically least crowded in the evening, she said.

For those who don’t have pools or other water features nearby, Eric Hardgrove, spokesperson for Columbia Gas of Ohio in Springfield and Central Ohio, said there are many ways to keep the house cooler without breaking the bank.

Hardgrove recommended grilling out more often to keep the kitchen cooler, and closing blinds and curtains to prevent the sun from heating rooms.

Residents can also turn air conditioning down or off at night and crack the windows. This week, evening lows are predicted in the low 70s.

“The days are warm there’s no question about that. We’re right in the middle of that peak heated season and with high temperatures during the day, but the evenings still tend to have a nice breeze and cooler temps and can be ways to save,” he said.

Hardgrove also recommended inspecting air conditioning units to make sure they are clean and leak-free. Minor adjustments could save up to 25% on cooling costs, he said.

Public Health-Dayton and Montgomery County noted in a news release that people who are most vulnerable to extremely high temperatures include seniors, those who work or exercise outdoors, children, homeless people and those with chronic medical conditions.

Public Health recommended checking on at-risk friends, family and neighbors at least twice a day, in addition to other safety measures such as staying hydrated and and taking cool showers or baths.

Residents should also learn the signs of heat exhaustion, which include heavy sweating, weakness, fainting, vomiting and cold, clammy skin, the health district said. Those with heat exhaustion should move to a cooler location, lie down, sip water and place cool, wet cloths on their skin. Medical attention should be sought if vomiting continues, according to the release.

If someone is experiencing heat stroke, 911 should be called immediately and the person should be moved to a cool environment and their body temperature should be reduced with cool cloths or a bath. Fluids should not be given to someone experiencing heat stroke, the release said.

Symptoms of heat stroke include body temperature above 103 degrees; rapid and strong pulse; hot, red, dry or moist skin; and possible unconsciousness, according to the release.