‘Oppressive’ heat worst in a decade; cities take cooling steps

Construction workers who are rehabbing Mendelson in downtown Dayton rest in the shade after a tank on the roof caught fire and they evacuated the building. The fire did not damage the seven story building. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

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Construction workers who are rehabbing Mendelson in downtown Dayton rest in the shade after a tank on the roof caught fire and they evacuated the building. The fire did not damage the seven story building. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

Tuesday was the worst heat the Dayton area has seen in about a decade, and power outages meant more folks than usual suffered through it with no air conditioning.

Local cities are opening cooling centers to help residents avoid heat exposure, which will be important as the National Weather Service’s Excessive Heat Watch remains in effect through Wednesday.

“It’s oppressive,” National Weather Service meteorologist John Franks said, adding that Wednesday “wouldn’t be much different.”

Tuesday’s temperatures topped out at 95 degrees at Dayton International Airport (a record for June 14), with a Heat Index Value of 109 and humidity in the mid-70s, according to NWS. Temperatures felt a degree or two higher in the Dayton metro area because of the “urban heat island” caused by concrete there, Franks said.

The last time Dayton’s heat index passed 106 was a stretch of several days in June 2012, according to NWS meteorologist Christopher Hogue. That was also the last time the air temperature in Dayton exceeded 96, with highs of 102 and 99 on June 28-29, 2012.

Temperatures are forecast to hit 96 degrees and the heat index should reach 106 degrees Wednesday, Franks said. It will feel slightly less muggy than Tuesday, but not by much, he said.

Overnight lows are forecast in the upper 70s Tuesday and Wednesday night.

Health risks from heat

“Once you get low temperatures over 70 degrees, those are the days that you don’t cool off at night and then your next day starts even warmer,” Franks said. “When you don’t cool off at night, your body starts to show the wear. With each successive day, if you don’t get some sort of relief going on, there’s an increased risk of heat stroke and heat exhaustion.”

Public Health-Dayton & Montgomery County warned residents that those most vulnerable include the elderly, those who work or exercise outdoors, infants and children, the homeless and individuals with a chronic medical condition.

“Now is the time to reach out to family, friends and neighbors who you think may be at risk due to extreme temperature conditions, including those who may not have access to air conditioning or may have underlying health conditions that make ... exposure to heat a greater risk than normal” said Dan Suffoletto, spokesman for Public Health.

Young children and pets should never be left unattended in vehicles, but especially when car interiors can reach lethal temperatures in a matter of minutes.

Cooling centers

Many communities are offering cooling centers, including Dayton, Oakwood, Riverside, West Carrollton, Moraine, Washington Twp. and several Warren County locations. Some focused on the elderly, those with special needs and young students.

** Dayton: The city three recreation centers — Lohrey, Northwest and Greater Dayton — are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. The city’s spray parks — Fairview, Five Oaks, Mallory, McIntosh, Stuart Patterson, Walnut Hills and Washington — are free to use and open for noon to 8 p.m.

** Oakwood: The Oakwood Community Center is available as a cooling center as needed, City Manager Norbert Klopsch said. He added that the city pays special attention to citizens enrolled in its ACORN program (Assisting and Contributing to Oakwood Resident Needs).

** Riverside: More than 130 students in Mad River Local Schools Summer RISE program have had recess moved indoors this week in the district’s air-conditioned school building, according to district spokeswoman Jenny Alexander.

** West Carrollton: The West Carrollton Civic Center will be open again today from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. “whether it be residents who are most vulnerable to the heat or those that might lack air conditioning or the means to stay cool,” said Heidi Van Antwerp, the city’s spokeswoman.

** Warren County: Atrium Medical Center’s auditorium is available as a cooling area. With the ongoing power outages, the hospital anticipated an influx of people who will need oxygen support, officials said.

Other cooling stations in Warren County include Carlisle Town Hall, Franklin Fire Department, Franklin-Springboro Public Library, and Springboro Administration Building, 320 W. Central Ave. The cooling centers provide residents a place to rest and recharge their electrical devices, according to the Warren County Emergency Management Agency. They do not provide overnight lodging, medical care or food.

Forecast look-ahead

Temperatures Thursday won’t be as bad, Franks said, but the high will still top out at around 93 degrees with a heat index around 100, he said.

“It’s still not going to be very nice and the cumulative effect is still going to be at play, but it’s most certainly not reaching into the category that we would think would be dangerous,” he said.

A “hit-and-miss” chance of showers and thunderstorms during the afternoon and night Thursday should bring some much needed cloud cover, even if it doesn’t bring any rain, and things also will be significantly less muggy.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday highs are only expected to reach 86, 79 and 81 degrees, respectively, spelling “a definite return” to more moderate, less excessive temperatures, Franks said.

“At any time in the summer this is a possibility, (but) I think more commonly you’ll see that in the July and August timeframe,” Franks said. “It’s not a commonality to see it quite this early.”

Staff writers Nick Blizzard, Cornelius Frolik and Rick McCrabb contributed to this report.

Safety tips for hot weather

Stay cool

  • Stay in air-conditioned buildings (do not rely on a fan as your primary cooling device if possible);
  • Limit outdoor activity, especially in the hottest part of the day, and avoid direct sunlight;
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing;
  • Take cool showers or baths to lower your body temperature;
  • Adjust blinds, shades, and awnings to keep out the sun;
  • Check on at-risk friends, family and neighbors at least twice a day;

Stay hydrated

  • Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
  • Drink two to four cups of water every hour while working or exercising outside.
  • Avoid alcohol or liquids containing high amounts of sugar.

Stay informed

  • Visit www.phdmc.org/extreme-heat to find local information and tips for preventing heat sickness.

SOURCE: Public Health-Dayton & Montgomery County

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