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High temps prompt response

Big cities announce heat alerts, open shelters, distribute water bottles.

BY ZACH HOFFMAN | BALTIMORE | August 10, 2009


"We handed out at least 200 bottles of water today to help people stay hydrated, and we’ll do the same thing tomorrow"

—Peggy Vick, Salvation Army


A heat-front blazed through the Mid-Atlantic Monday as temperatures soared into the upper 90s, even breaking 100 degrees, from Massachusetts to North Carolina.

“High pressures over the mid-Atlantic will bring the warmest temperatures of the year,” said forecasters at the National Weather Service (NWS) said Monday.

In Baltimore, Maryland, Interim Health Commissioner Olivia D. Farrow issued a Code Red Heat Alert from Sunday, Aug. 9 through Tuesday, Aug. 11.

According to the Baltimore Heat Watch Warning System, high temperatures pose a potential danger to people who are more than 60 years of age or less than five years.

To combat the heat, the Department of Recreation and Parks has plans to open 46 recreation centers during their normal operation hours to provide people with cooling centers equipped with air conditioning and cold water.

In a new addition to the program, the city is providing bus vouchers, good for one free trip, to help vulnerable residents to get to cool places and visit friends and family on Code Red days.

The Salvation Army and American Red Cross have volunteered their services on heat advisory days by distributing bottles of water to the homeless and other people at designated areas.

“We handed out at least 200 bottles of water today to help people stay hydrated, and we’ll do the same thing tomorrow,” said Peggy Vick, director of social services and volunteer services for the Baltimore chapter of Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army will hand out water at four different locations at noon each day of a Code Red Heat Alert.

Just a short distance away, in Washington D.C., other cooling centers have been set up in senior centers and government buildings across the city, as well as implementation of the Street Showers Program.

According to spokespersons from the D.C. Office of Emergency Preparedness, when the heat index hits 100 the city has plans to open 17 fire hydrants in designated public housing communities so residents will not result to drastic measures to keep cool.

A small spray park operating at the Bald Eagle Recreation Center in D.C. said that they are not allowing their children to even go outside because it is too hot. “All our children will be doing activities inside our gym today,” said a worker at Bald Eagle.

The D.C. Energy Office is providing assistance for special needs population through its Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program by providing fans for households with young children or senior residents.

Both cities also urge local churches to keep their doors open to serve as unofficial cooling stations for members of their community.

The National Weather Service has a few suggestions to stay cool and be safe during a heat advisory:

Drink plenty of water…

Stay in an air-conditioned room (a fan is not a substitute for air-conditioning) when temperatures pass 90 degrees…

Stay out of the sun…

And check on elderly relatives and neighbors.


Related Topics:

Earth has warmest May on record

Heat wave prediction model identified

Northeast U.S. bakes in heatwave


More links on Heat Wave

 

Related Links:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s online resources on preventing heat-related illness

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