Heat is on in downstate Delaware

From left, Barbara Fleming and Kathy Landis enjoy a cool ice cream on an extreme hot day at Rita’s Italian Ice & Frozen Custard in Milford. (Special to the Delaware State News/Ariane Mueller)

For those who like it hot, Monday was the perfect day to sit around and sweat.

The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning for Delaware on Monday that lasted until 8 p.m., with temperatures rising to the upper 90s and heat index values as high as 109 degrees, making it among the hottest days of summer so far — and extremely humid.

The National Weather Service recorded 97 degrees in the Lewes area around 4 p.m. Monday and a heat index of 109 at 6 p.m. Dover Air Force Base recorded a high of 94 degrees with a heat index of 104 at 6 p.m.

It wasn’t a very good day to be a landscaper, roadworker, construction worker or anybody else whose jobs take them outdoors.

However, it was a good day to be at the beach, have a pool, be treating one’s self to an ice cream or water ice, or be a child running through the sprinkler.

“We’re going to have some Rita’s and then go home and hop in the pool,” said Holly Zorn, who was at Rita’s Water Ice in Dover with her three children. “We’ve been staying at home. We’ve been staying at home anyway, due to the coronavirus, but at least we have a pool to keep cool.”

James Colmery, who works for Pettinaro, was out at noon shoveling dirt from the back of a pickup in the parking lot of the Blue Hen Corporate Center with the temperatures around 92.

“I’m going to get out of here as soon as I’m done because I started early,” Mr. Colmery said. “I started at around 6. Pettinaro’s usually lets us work like that — if it’s real hot he’ll let us start early, and you could tell it was going to be a hot one (Monday).”

From left, Chelsie Carrar and Georgia Marten enjoy a cool ice cream on an extreme hot day at Rita’s Italian Ice & Frozen Custard in Milford. (Special to the Delaware State News/Ariane Mueller)

The NWS said Tuesday probably won’t exactly be a picnic, either, with a high temperature near 93 and heat index values as high as 100 degrees.

The dangerously hot and humid conditions are expected to return on Wednesday and Thursday, which is the opening day for the Delaware State Fair in Harrington. Delawareans know that hot weather is nothing new for the state fair. The NWS said a heat advisory for those days may be needed as well.

Residents are reminded to drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun, and check up on relatives and neighbors. Young children and pets should never be left unattended in vehicles under any circumstances.

People are also asked to take extra precautions if they work or spend time outside. When possible, people should reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening, know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, and wear lightweight and loose-fitting clothing when possible.

To reduce risk during outdoor work, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air-conditioned environments. Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location. Heat stroke is considered an emergency.

Bashir Holmes, of Wilmington, found a nice piece of shade at Garrisons Lake late Monday morning and joined a couple of friends for a day of fishing.

“I’m just out here trying to relax a little bit and beat the heat,” said Mr. Holmes, who works at Christiana Hospital. “We’ve only been out here about 15 or 20 minutes, so we just got here and it’s not too bad yet. We’re getting some action with the fish. I’m off, so this is nice.”

The NWS said extreme heat and humidity will significantly increase the potential for heat-related illnesses, particularly for those working or engaged in outdoor activities.

Delaware Health and Social services announced took heed on Sunday and announced on Twitter that the COVID-19 testing drive-through hours it had scheduled on Monday at Walgreen locations in Dover, Bridgeville and Middletown had been reduced to 9 a.m. until noon because of the heat.

Daniel Klecan, Warfel Construction Company foreman, copes with Monday’s heat with a new hat and plenty of fluids at a house construction site in Milford. (Special to the Delaware State News/Ariane Mueller)

Lester Gallihue, who lives near Smyrna, was out at Big Oak Park in Smyrna early Monday walking laps around the softball fields.

“I walk out here every other day and I wanted to make sure I got out here before it got too hot,” Mr. Gallihue said. “Basically, I had a stroke five years ago and I still have a weakness wobble, so I do this. Later on, I plan on going home and putting on the news.”

AAA reminded motorists that when the outside temperatures are 80 to 100 degrees the interior of cars parked in direct sunlight can reach between 180 and 200 degrees in a matter of minutes.

That puts children five and younger, adults over 65, pregnant or nursing mothers and persons with disabilities or pre-existing medical conditions, at risk of heat stroke and heat prostration. It only takes 15 minutes for a child left inside a hot vehicle to suffer life-threatening brain, liver and kidney injuries.

Jeremy Tucker, manager of marketing and communications for Delaware Electric Cooperative, said the power company was ready for anything with the soaring temperatures. “It’s going to be a scorcher!” Mr. Tucker said Monday morning. “(Monday) will likely be the hottest day of the year so far and we expect energy use to skyrocket. Later (Monday), DEC will issue a Beat the Peak alert, meaning we’ll be asking members to voluntarily conserve energy when the cost for the Co-op to purchase and produce energy is very high. By lowering energy use during Beat the Peak alerts, members help to keep our rates affordable.

“With temperatures nearing 100 (Monday), there will be extra strain placed on the Co-op’s system. Engineers and linemen have been carefully inspecting electrical equipment for any potential issues. While we hope our proactive work will prevent equipment from failing, there is always the possibility of the extreme heat leading to isolated outages. Crews will be standing by to make any necessary repairs.”