Coping with the big heat

DOVER — Blazing and oppressive.

Dangerously hot and humid.

Everyone was discussing the heat blast Wednesday.

The conversations won’t change for the next 72 hours or so.
The heat index measuring the feel of temperature and humidity may rise to about 110 degrees, the Delaware Division of Public Health cautioned.

At Race Track Car Wash in Dover, Robert Rexrode kept a watchful eye on 10 or so co-workers servicing a nonstop line of vehicles heading their way.

“I’m a little concerned about the older ones — I’m 61 and another guy here is 62,” he said. “The humidity is the killer. We’re trying to keep it at a slower pace and don’t want anyone to fall out.

“Every job I’ve ever had in the last 43 years has been outside, I worked in construction, so I can handle it.”

Owner Chuck Laskey expected up to 250 vehicles to pass through Wednesday, down slightly from a normal load.

“When it gets this hot we don’t see as many customers,” he said. “Many of them are older and just don’t want to get out. It’s the same way when it’s cold — anytime there’s an extreme weather change we’ll have a lull for a couple days or so.”

Race Track’s 18 employees overall on duty were allowed ample break times whenever needed.

“We’re big on cramming in the water throughout the day, beginning when they get here,” Mr. Laskey said. “It’s important to stay hydrated before you heat up, not after you do.”

On Tuesday, NWS meteorologist Sarah Johnson explained what’s keeping the heat here.

“During the summer stagnant patterns emerge and the strongest of them often settle in the south,” she said. “Unfortunately, by the luck of the draw we’re in the midst of that now.”

While earlier Delaware record highs may survive, Ms. Johnson still described the upcoming surroundings as “dangerously hot” through the weekend.

‘Cautious, of course’
Twenty or so Delaware State University football players completed an hour-long workout inside Alumni Stadium by late morning before heading inside to cool off.

“We’re cautious of course but have to get used to the heat before regular practice starts,” tight end/team captain Isiah Williams said.
“We’ve set team goals and must put in the work to reach them. We don’t have the luxury of a dome as some other schools do but that isn’t a reason to not condition either.”

Added fellow captain/running back Michael Waters, “We’re building a bond by getting through this together, knowing that this is just one challenge and others always come up during the season.”
Dover resident Jake Serin was OK with it all as he entered Walgreens.

“It’s better than snow and ice, all that other stuff,” he said. “You can always find some air conditioning somewhere.
“The key is drink plenty of water and don’t stay out too long.”
Saige Ivy, 12, was headed to sports practice later in the day.

“I like it,” she said of the heat.
“Usually I go to the beach to stay cool, but today I’m going to gymnastics where it’s fairly hot. If you stay hydrated you’ll survive.”

Heat stroke was the concern for five alpacas at White Gate Farms in Dover. In addition to hosing them down twice a day, Bob Hayes said, the alpacas soothed themselves by laying in the mud.

“We always seem to have a week to 10 days when the heat is especially bad,” he said on Tuesday. “This is just wheat we do — take care of them.”
Anticipating searing conditionss, the Air Mobility Command Museum next to Dover Air Force Base canceled Saturday’s open cockpit day for visitors.

‘A real scorcher’
Early morning trips outside were OK at the little school at Kids Cottage in Dover, but a rising heat index restricted the kids to indoor activities afterward, according to owner Lisa Ratliff on Tuesday.
“It’s a temporary hot one but we deal with it every summer and make modifications,” she said.

An indoor playground was never more valuable.
“Fortunately we have a playground that’s good in hot weather and cold, summer or winter and whether it’s rainy or not,” Ms. Ratliff said.

Describing the impending heat burst as “a real scorcher” Kent County Emergency Management Director Chief Colin T. Faulkner hoped common sense would prevail.

“I think most people get it – your body typically tell you if you’re doing the right thing and the brain sends signals notifying you to find a proper remedy,” he said.

The extreme effects of the weather will become evident.
“We’ll know in a couple days if the first responders were called in,” he said.
Four cooling stations are available in Sussex County at the Administration building, Greenwood, Milton and Bethany Beach libraries during regular business hours.

“Sussex County paramedics will make routine stops at these locations, as time permits, to answer any heat-related questions and/or concerns,” spokesman Chip Guy said in a news release Tuesday. “Also, free, individual servings of bottled water will be available at the County Administration Building only to help the public cool off from the heat.”

The Division of Public Health advised those needing additional assistance to call 211 to connect with critical services and support. Eligible callers can receive referrals to crisis assistance, and nearby cooling centers.

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