CLEVELAND — After weeks of mild, even chilly weather, we're making a dramatic turnaround over the next few days. Temperatures are expected to hit the 90’s, but feel like we'll be in the triple digits.
Beating the heat will be a little harder this summer than it has in the past.
Obviously, we have heat waves every year around this time. What we've never had is a pandemic at the same time, where people want to be outside or wherever it's cool, but need to keep their distance from those who want to be in the same place. So this week, safety is truly going to be put to the test.
You see, getting people to wear masks in the age of COVID on a normal day is like herding cats, never mind when the temperatures get as high as they’re expected. According to the National Weather Service, we're heading into a heatwave that will be hotter than any July 4th celebrations you probably saw, with a heat index of 100.
National Weather Service Meteorologist Zachary Sefcovic says the heat index is based on the moisture or humidity in the air and “When it feels like 100, certainly it feels oppressive. And, it's difficult for the sweat to evaporate off your skin. So, it makes it feel hot and sticky.”
Making matters worse, with many pools and rec centers closed or limiting capacity, places to cool down are limited. Virtually all senior centers have been shuttered, and there are currently no plans to open cooling centers according to United Way 211.
It’s why University Hospitals Emergency Department Physician, Dr. Aaron Lareau warns, “As much as it's tempting to enjoy what's out there in terms of the pools and other activities outside, if you can't maintain a safe social distance, if you can't protect yourself using a facial covering and do that safely, you really do need to consider just staying at home or in your own yard if possible.”
Contracting COVID could be just as deadly as heatstroke. So how can those needing to stay cool also protect themselves from getting infected?
"I think my best advice would be to try and keep as light of clothing on as you can and keep yourself hydrated,” says Dr. Lareau. “If you have fans available to you, that'd be helpful. Even to cool yourself down with a cool shower or bath, if possible, could be the difference between getting sick and not getting sick."
But if none of those suggestions move you, you can always follow Meteorologist Sefcovic who says, “There’s nothing like a little bit of ice cream in the shade outside in the backyard. Sounds like a good July night to me.
Here’s another suggestion: If you have an older AC unit, call someone in for a check-up now to make sure it's running properly and doesn’t go on the brink when you need it most. If you don't have an air conditioner, consider getting a window or portable unit as soon as possible, even just a fan. Because, if you wait, you could as they say, be left in the cold. Heat waves cause service people and units to run out quickly.
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