Hot times on the Fourth of July


Zeke Blair pours cold water on his head to try to cool off while working at Double Diamond Recycling in Dover on Tuesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery )

DOVER — Fittingly enough, the temperature has been “hotter than a firecracker” in the week leading up to today’s Fourth of July festivities in Dover.

Alex Staarmann, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Mount Holly, New Jersey, said that Monday was the most brutal day during the nearly week-long heat wave, but added there is some relief in sight.

“During this heat wave over the last few days we’ve been running around 10 degrees above average temperature-wise, but as we head into (today) it will only be about five degrees above average,” Mr. Staarmann said.

“We’re expecting a cold front to move through late Friday and that will bring along with it some showers and thunderstorms. Once that moves through it will usher in much cooler and drier air. The weekend will be much more bearable than it has been.”

That’s good news, especially for people who work outside such as road workers, roofers, landscapers, postal workers, construction workers and others.

Thomas Greene, who cuts lawns throughout the summer, said that he took off work on Tuesday to extend his Fourth of July holiday a little bit.

Greene was fishing off Masseys Mill Pond on Brenford Road on Tuesday morning, enjoying the somewhat cooler temperatures before the afternoon heat arrived.

“It’s been hotter than a firecracker around here the past couple of days, so I figured, ‘Why not take a day off?’,” said Mr. Greene, who lives near Sudlersville, Maryland.

“It’s like they say, a bad day fishing is better than a good day at work.”

Dover was under a heat advisory until 8 p.m. on Tuesday with the dangerously hot conditions expected to continue through today.

The National Weather Service’s Independence Day forecast for Dover is calling for a mostly sunny day today with a high near 89. There will be a light southeast wind increasing to 5 to 9 mph in the morning.

Tonight’s fireworks forecast is calling for mostly cloudy skies with a low around 72 — and most importantly, no rain.

On Tuesday, the temperature reached to the mid-90s with dewpoints in the mid-70s, which made it feel like it was 109 degrees in Dover.

It was enough to make the Dover Public Library move its Tuesday in the Park program: Zoo at the Park inside the library instead of its’ scheduled outside location at Dover Park due to the heat.

The Brandywine Zoo took three of its’ ambassador animals into the air-conditioned confines of the library from 11 a.m. until noon so that kids could learn about their amazing adaptations.

Taking care of those in need

Lt./Pastor Teddy Devine and her husband Lt./Pastor Tim Devine of the Salvation Army took to the streets of downtown Dover on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday to hand out ice cold bottles of water to the homeless.

“What I’ve done is since Sunday I’ve driven down Loockerman Street, Division Street, and all of the other streets downtown — as well as the bus station — where what I call my ‘homeless family’ hang out, and given out bottles of water to those in need,” said Teddy Devine. “They have been very appreciative. Who wouldn’t be on hot days like this?

Lt. Teddy Devine with the Salvation Army gives a woman two bottles of water at the Dover Bus Station on Tuesday. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

“We don’t have the funding to have a cooling shelter so we just go to the Food Lion and buy cases of water and load them into our Toyota minivan and give them away to whoever might need them. Since Sunday we have given out 24 cases of water with 24 battles to a case. We’ll continue doing it until this heat wave breaks.”

The Hopes and Dreams Peer Resource Center at 621 West Division Street stayed open from 8 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. on Monday and Tuesday to give the area’s homeless population a reprieve from the heat.

Tricia Hill, the director of Hopes and Dreams, said most people think of homelessness as being dangerous in the cold of winter, but hot conditions can be just as bad.

She said she appreciates the donations of water and lunches her peer resource center has received the past couple of days.

“We serve many people experiencing homelessness who do not have access to necessary items such as water,” Ms. Hill wrote on the Hopes and Dreams Facebook page. “In this heat, they could dehydrate and overheat very quickly. Frozen bottled water helps to both keep them hydrated and cool them down.

“The elements can be very challenging when it’s 100 degrees outside.”

Don’t underestimate the dangers of heat

Mr. Staarmann said that everybody needs to be alert to the dangers of being outside during a heat wave such as this one.

“We advise people to limit their time outdoors if possible, try to refrain from doing intense physical activity, especially during hottest part of days,” he said.

“People should drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun and check up on relatives and neighbors.

“Wear lightweight and loose-fitting clothing when possible and drink plenty of water. To reduce risk during outdoor work the occupational safety and health administration recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air-conditioned environments.”

Bayhealth Stroke Medical Director Dr. Sumeet S. Multani said that some summertime habits and rituals can increase the risk of stroke and make individuals less likely to recognize stroke symptoms.

Alcohol consumption can make it difficult to recognize stroke symptoms since they mirror those associated with intoxication. Alcohol and increased sodium intake, along with the summer heat, can lead to dehydration, which increases risk of stroke.

Dr. Multani and Bayhealth Nurse Practitioner Brandy Magee said that a stroke can occur to anyone, at any time and at any place.

“Unfortunately, some people shrug off stroke symptoms because they mistakenly think it’s a temporary problem, such as the typical numbness associated with your arm ‘falling asleep,’ or that the weakness or headache they have is caused by something else,” said Ms. Magee. “This can have detrimental long-term effects, which is why it’s always best to seek immediate medical attention if you have any of these symptoms.”

The Division of Public Health agreed that hot weather conditions are nothing to be overlooked when it comes to one’s health.

“Extreme heat is especially dangerous for seniors, young children, people with disabilities and people with breathing conditions and other chronic medical conditions, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and other respiratory problems,” the DPH said.

“Higher temperatures, not even extreme, have also been associated with higher levels of inflammation in patients with preexisting heart health conditions.

“Also, at risk are people without access to air conditioning, fans or cooling shelters.”

A reprieve appears to be on its way for the weekend. The National Weather Service is calling for a high temperature of 81 degrees on Saturday and 82 degrees on Sunday.

By then, days “as hot as a firecracker” will be a thing of the past — at least for now.

 

Fourth of July safety tips

DOVER — The Delaware Division of Public Health recommends that residents take steps to keep family, friends and pets safe during Fourth of July gatherings.

Prevent foodborne illness

As temperatures rise, so do people’s chances of contracting a foodborne illness if they do not properly handle and sanitize their food. Be mindful of keeping food out in the hot sun too long and follow the proper procedures for cooking meats and poultry. When bringing food to a picnic or cookout:

• Use an insulated cooler filled with ice or frozen gel packs. Frozen food can also be used as a cold source.

• Foods that need to be kept cold include raw meat, poultry and seafood; deli and luncheon meats or sandwiches; summer salads (tuna, chicken, egg, pasta, potato or seafood); cut up vegetables and fruits, especially melons; and perishable dairy products.

• A full cooler will maintain its cold temperature longer than a partially filled one. When using a cooler, keep it out of the direct sun by placing it in the shade or shelter.

• Avoid opening the cooler repeatedly so that your food stays colder longer when hosting an outdoor event.

• Before cooking, keep meats and eggs in a container under 40 degrees F, keeping ice for beverages in a separate container.

• Refrigerate cold foods until they’re ready to be served, keeping them on ice once they are out in the open.

• Have a food thermometer on hand to be sure meats are cooked meats to their required temperature.

• Burgers and sausage should be cooked to 160 degrees F; chicken and turkey should be cooked to 165 degrees F; and steaks should be cooked to 145 degrees F with a three-minute rest time.

• Food should not be left out longer than two hours (one hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees F).

For more food safety tips, visit http://dhss.delaware.gov/dph/hsp/foodsafety.html or Foodsafety.gov.

Protect pets from fireworks and loud noises

The DPH Office of Animal Welfare advises pet owners to be aware that fireworks cause many pets to run away, and that holiday foods and heat can be harmful to our four-legged family members. The following tips from the American Veterinary Medical Association can help keep pets are safe from harm during Independence Day celebrations:

• If a pet is sensitive to noises like fireworks or thunder, consult a veterinarian for recommendations on how to ease anxiety caused by fireworks and loud parties. Anxiety medications and treats, “thunder” shirts and behavioral training are all tools to help keep pets calm.

• Leave pets at home if attending gatherings elsewhere. In addition to fireworks, strange places and crowds can spook an animal and cause them to flee. Utilize a crate or escape-proof area of the home during parties and fireworks.

• Those who expect guests during the holiday, or any celebration, should inform their company to be mindful of pets when entering or exiting a home or yard to avoid accidental escapes. Place signs on doors and gates that alert guests to be vigilant about pets.

• Tell guests to refrain from sharing food meant for people as these can upset your pets’ stomach, or worse. After any in-home celebrations, check yards for food scraps and fireworks debris that animals may ingest.

• Make sure sparklers, glow sticks, fireworks, charcoal and skewers are out of reach from pets.

• Stay vigilant about times when pets are outdoors. Pets are safest inside on hot and humid days. If they must be outside, ensure they have access to fresh water and secondary shade apart from dog and cat enclosures, which can become dangerously hot inside.

• Make sure pets have identification tags with current owner contact information. Have pets microchipped, if they aren’t already. A microchip is an affordable device with owner information to ensure pets can return home if they get out and are found by someone else. Make sure the microchip is registered with up-to-date owner contact information.

• If a pet does escape, post its photo and identifying information on the Office of Animal Welfare’s statewide Lost & Found Pet Registry, at animalservices.delaware.gov. Review found pet notices there as well. Pets may have been found by a neighbor or taken to a local animal shelter.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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