The Long Hot Summer

| July 27, 2011
Louisvillians kept cool recently at Waterfront Park.

Louisvillians kept cool recently at Waterfront Park.

A heat wave is sweeping the nation, with record-breaking, triple-digit temperatures in the central and eastern portions of the U.S., and heat indices as high as 115 degrees. Here in Louisville, we’re at the center of the chaos, having been plagued by a string of excessive heat advisories and warnings, along with unbearable humidity unlike any we’ve experienced before.

“This year, much of the country has been on fire,” said WAVE 3 Chief Meteorologist Kevin Harned. “We’ve had weeks on end with the extreme heat and humidity here in Louisville, and August shows little sign of changing. What most people don’t know is that heat tops the list in weather-related fatalities. The same rules apply as before – you just have to take it easy, drink plenty of water and take frequent breaks.”

With the hazardous combination of heat and humidity, individuals are being urged to stay inside and away from the sun at all hours of the day. Even those who love to run at the break of dawn should consider heading to the gym for a cool, air-conditioned morning workout.

“This year, the humidity is through the roof,” said WHAS11 meteorologist Ben Pine. “The big difference this year is we have wet heat. The humidity is about as high as it can possibly get. In the morning, it’s felt like 90 to 97 degrees.”

With the high humidity, the body does not evaporate sweat like it does in dry weather, Pine explained. The skin cannot stay cool because the high concentration of water vapor in the atmosphere keeps sweat on the body, and therefore, increases the risk for heat exhaustion and heat-related illness.

Louisville isn’t just one of a few cities suffering from hot conditions. According to CBS News, 1,279 different locations in the U.S. have either tied or set daytime records for temperatures in July, and at least 22 people have died of heat-related causes, including an 18-year-old boy in Sellersburg, Ind., who fell ill while working for a landscaping business last Thursday.

Thomas Porter and family.

Thomas Porter and family.

In an attempt to stay cool from the hot summer sun, several locals have visited Waterfront Park to splash around in the waterplay area.

“Waterfront Development has done a wonderful job with this part of the area,” said Tim Minard, a hot dog vendor at Waterfront Park. “A lot of folks stay under the line of shade trees and bring their own coolers. We just try to encourage people to take it easy and drink water, drink water, drink water.”

Gerri Yeheish brings her son to Waterfront Park every summer to cool off from the heat, and though she and her son are dealing well with the weather, her family has not been so lucky. Several of Yeheish’s relatives were among the thousands of people who lost their power for a brief time a week ago after a series of storms hit Louisville.

With all of the heat warnings in effect lately, the loss of air-conditioning is especially dangerous.

“My family’s air conditioning was out from 11 (p.m.) to 6 a.m. one morning,” Yeheish said.

“My granny said she tossed and turned but (the air-conditioning) came back on the next morning. I’ve been blessed to not have an outage, but my air conditioning in my car is trying to act silly.”

Whether you have air-conditioning or not, staying out of the sun and finding somewhere to cool off is your best bet for beating the heat and definitely something you should take into serious consideration. Here are some tips from the Louisville Metro Health and Wellness Department on staying safe in the summer sun:

• Drink more fluids (nonalcoholic), regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
• Don’t drink liquids that contain caffeine, alcohol or large amounts of sugar –these actually cause you to lose more body fluid.
• Stay indoors and, if possible, stay in an air-conditioned place. If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the shopping mall or public library for a few hours.
• Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.
• NEVER leave anyone in a closed, parked vehicle.
• Check regularly on infants and young children, adults age 65 or older, and anyone with a mental or physical illness, especially those with heart disease or high blood pressure.
• Visit adults at risk at least twice a day and closely watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
• Limit your outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.
• Cut down on exercise. If you must exercise, drink two to four glasses of cool, nonalcoholic fluids each hour. A sports beverage can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat. Try to rest often in shady areas.
• Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses and sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher.
• The most effective sunscreen products say “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection” on their labels.

For other tips and information, visit www.Louisvilleky.gov/health.

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Category: Cover Stories

About the Author (Author Profile)

Ashley Anderson

Ashley spends half her time writing stories at The Voice-Tribune office and half her time out on the town conducting interviews, while occasionally dressing in wild outfits to fully immerse herself in the experience (aka Princess Leia at Comic Con). Ashley is a huge UofL fan and loves the Yankees and the Boston Celtics (she is fully aware of the irony). She hopes to one day outshine Erin Andrews on ESPN and enjoys running, Bardstown Road/Fourth Street, Breaking Bad and reality TV (she’s not ashamed to admit that).

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