Heat wave leaves residents looking for ways to cool off

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Five-year-old Conner Henry-Wegner cools off by playing on a fire hydrant being flushed near his grandmother Cathy Phillip’s house on Cummings Street in Tecumseh with the temperature soaring to 91 degrees on Wednesday, July 17. Photo submitted.

Regardless of one’s position on global warming, or if you prefer, climate change, this summer is one of extremes so far. The season started out with unusually profuse rainfall, starting on the second day of summer, Saturday, June 21, with a deluge in the afternoon, presaging a week of rain that drenched the area daily, including the Native American powwow at Mitchell Park on Saturday, June 29.

Farmers were happy, for a while. They began to grow anxious about precipitation when the rainfall came nearly every day through the first ten days of July. Great for the crops, but not so good for harvesting the mature hay and grain that depend on dry weather for optimum storage conditions.

Then it stopped. The cutoff date in Tecumseh (except for a brief nighttime shower Wednesday night, was Thursday, July 11) but the dreaded “heat index,” which measures the actual temperature adjusted to the dew point, began to make many people wish for the cooler, rainier start of the month. The influence of the dew point is mentioned in almost every weathercast and only the meteorologist understands or can explain the impact on human comfort levels, but basically, if the dew point is above 70 degrees, the experience is equatorial in that it is unbearably hot and humid for those of us used to living above the Tropic of Cancer.

The entire midsection of the nation, extending to the east coast, is experiencing the same conditions, and nightly news broadcasts are warning of heat advisories, which recommend the millions of affected inhabitants take precautions against heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Workers in outdoor jobs are cautioned to wear headgear and drink water regularly to keep hydrated, and infants and old folks are advised to not venture into the noonday sun at all.

Pet owners should take extra precautions for their significant animal others with additional water and shade opportunities if the pets must be left outdoors.

Some of the more innovative among us, like the young lad pictured on a firehydrant, have taken the matter into their own hands, finding any opportunity to bring their core body temperature down, through whatever means at hand.

The current heat wave is no joking matter, however. Extreme heat kills more people in the United States than any other weather phenomenon. Nationwide, an average of 650 deaths are blamed on heat annually, more than for any other weather condition, according to the Center for Disease Control. Most of these deaths are preventable with proper precautions. Proper hydration is the number one preventative measure, followed by finding a cool spot to rest.

Locally, a call to United Way 211 revealed that cooling stations are available at The Daily Bread of Lenawee, 302 S. Tecumseh St., Adrian, Tuesday through Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and at the Adrian Senior Center, 327 Erie St., Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. “Splash pads,” including the one at Zorn Recreational Area on Russell Road in Tecumseh can also bring temporary relief.

Unofficially, there are other locations where residents may go and receive a warm welcome to their cool establishments, including local restaurants, movie theaters, libraries, and grocery stores. Meijer and WalMart department stores are both open 24 hours. They are air-conditioned and welcome browsers.

It could be worse, Death Valley, Calif., was a near record 128 degrees recently, and Sunday, July 7, it hit 83 degrees in Fairbanks, Alaska.

The weatherman says that a cooling trend was forecast locally for Friday evening, July 19, when the heat advisory will be lifted. But when temperatures soar again, residents at risk are advised to do their best to stay cool, even if it requires a splash in a corner fire hydrant, which currently in Tecumseh are being flushed by the city department of public works as part of routine maintenance.

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