DC-area residents battle the heat
The region hit near-record temperatures in the low to mid-90s, reported the Capital Weather Gang after 4 p.m. Saturday. The warmer than usual spring day left anyone with outdoor plans or young children entertained in search of shade and activity. And the extreme weather posed a more serious challenge for the city’s homeless population.
In DC, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) activated the thermal emergency plan through Sunday evening, including the opening of additional cooling centers across the city. Shelters remain open 24/7 as they have since the start of the pandemic.
Montgomery Soccer Inc., a youth league in Montgomery County, Maryland, issued a heat advisory with strict guidelines for mandatory water breaks.
City officials across the region reminded residents to protect themselves and others from the heat by staying indoors or in the shade when possible, watching elderly neighbors, drinking plenty of liquids and wearing hats and sunscreen.
Lisa Starghill had those bases covered on Saturday as she set up the Turkey Thicket pavilion for a barbecue for her daughter’s college graduation. They already had plenty of RSVPs, but she suspected the spray park would entice more friends and family with kids to brave the heat.
“It’s summer! It’s DC! I’m so glad it didn’t rain. Sometimes you have to put aside the heat and say, ‘It’s worth it,'” said Starghill who hung a congratulatory banner and wore a t-shirt with the photo of his daughter Christian Jasmine.
She and her sister, Angel Johnson, grew up and still live nearby and were also eager to celebrate their neighborhood.
The Rose family had planned to pick strawberries on Saturday and then considered gardening, but the weather forecast indicated only one option – a spray park.
Alexis Rose handed out snacks to Elliot, 3, and Remy, almost 1, and recalled a dismal summer of 2020, when the early days of the pandemic, before the vaccine, meant spray parks and swimming pools were banned .
“We finally have the chance to take the kids to a water park,” her husband, David Rose, said.
Not everyone in DC was so lucky.
About an hour after opening time, some parks were still dry, prompting the city’s parks and recreation department to Tweeter“We are working with our maintenance partner and have sent technology to our water parks that did not turn on. We will put them in place as soon as possible.
“It was actually a good try because they’re all opening next week,” Parks Department spokesman Michael Tucker said, no pun intended. “They’re up and running, it was just a bit bumpy at first.”
Summer kicks off for real on Friday when Bowser plans to jump into Upshur’s pool to kick off DC’s summer pool season, he said.
New to town Kayla Baum and Sierra Salvatierra were among about 20 people who lined up at Rita’s Ice for a cold treat. They still went for a morning hike on Billy Goat Trail, but planned to spend the rest of the day indoors.
“Nothing seems right to be wet all the time,” Salvatierra said.
Although the blistering heat arrived earlier than expected, Balemaken, from Cameroon, said it didn’t bother her or her daughter, Susan, who wore pink and blue sunglasses.
“It is very important for the well-being of the child to have fun. Kids are supposed to go out and have fun,” she said.
The spray park is free — a perk in tough pandemic times, she said — and the best way she could think of to spend her only weekend off with Susan.
Also, she said, by Monday, forecasts call for a top in the low to mid-70s.
This is good news for the city’s street teams, who visit homeless people daily but step up their outreach efforts on extremely hot days.
This weekend they carried rolling bags of water and informed people living outside of the forecast. They tell them about places to seek refuge and remind them that transportation is available.
Separate shelters accommodate men and women, and families seeking emergency shelter can call 311 at any time, city officials say.
Heat can have serious consequences, especially so early in the season before people are acclimatized to high temperatures.
High temperatures cause more deaths in the district than any other weather-related event, including freezing winter temperatures and storms, said Christy Respress, executive director of Pathways to Housing DC, a nonprofit that provides permanent housing for homeless people.
“It’s not something people necessarily think about,” she said. “But if you’re someone who has a place to live, you can also come in and have a place to cool off.”
Libraries offer respite from scorching temperatures, but it can be difficult for people to find comfortable and welcoming places.
Some homeless people also have complex medical conditions that put them at higher risk for heat stroke, and may be on medication or deal with substance abuse issues that put them at increased risk for dehydration, he said. she stated.
When it’s really hot, the number one recommendation is to say indoors “which, if you’re homeless, is not an option,” Repress said.
Cooling centers provide a place to enjoy air conditioning, grab a snack and water, charge a phone and use the bathroom, she said, “just like we all want on a hot day.” .