During the summer, they’re considered unhealthy, forcing pool and beach lovers inside.
Rachel Ugarte, a Washington, DC, resident, says she sometimes brings her 16-month-old son Antonio to play in downtown Silver Spring’s fountain park, but often, she says they spend hot summer days in cool locations like public libraries.
“When I moved here from California I thought we’d be out in the pools, but it’s too hot,” Ugarte said.
Errol George, Prince George’s County assistant fire chief, recommends that residents try to stay inside as much as possible when the weather is extremely hot.
“If you’re doing yard work, try and do it in spurts of maybe 15 minutes at a time, taking frequent breaks in a cooler area and making sure to drink plenty of water,” he said.
Often, people don’t realize that when they actually feel thirsty their bodies have already gone beyond a safe point of dehydration, so it’s important to hydrate before you feel thirsty, George said.
High temperatures are often classified as a Code Orange when they reach air quality indices between 101 and 150, according to the AIRNow program, making it unhealthy for people with problems like asthma or allergies.
According to AIRNow, the DC and Baltimore areas will reach an air quality index of around 106 this week.
In order to stay cool during these upcoming hot days, Mary Anderson, Montgomery County Health Department’s public information officer, recommends wearing a hat and lightweight clothing, drinking lots of fluids and taking extra precautions when outside. These recommendations are especially important for young children and seniors.
“When Antonio was five months old he had a heat rash, so I realized we’d have to spend more time inside,” Ugarte says. “He loves to socialize and be outside, so it’s hard.”
Anderson says the health department stresses the importance of checking on elderly neighbors because they may have a slightly different thermostat.
“They may bundle up too much in the heat or may be reluctant to turn on the air conditioning because they’re concerned about the cost, and that can be a real issue,” she said.
The county’s health department makes fans available to low-income, elderly residents through the aging and disability resource unit, Anderson said.
Riverdale Park’s Volunteer Fire Department President Steve Lamphier says it’s important to pay attention to signs of hypothermia, which include dizziness, feeling faint, vomiting or headaches.
“For us as firefighters it’s very important to stay hydrated because we sweat a lot and lose a lot of water wearing our protective gear, so we always carry ice water on the trucks,” Lamphier says, adding that staying hydrated is the best guard against hypothermia.