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Heat wave inspires fun and caution

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By Amber Coulter

The season’s first extended period of temperatures in the 90s means some seasonal businesses and services are bustling.

Other area employees and at-risk groups have to take special care not to be harmed by sweltering conditions.

The pool at Radcliff’s Colvin Community Center on Freedom Way has maintained steady attendance.

The idea that baking heat leads to crowded pools is only partly true, city Recreation Director Lori Jury said.

People often try to stay in air-conditioning when the temperatures soar too high, she said.

“When it gets really, really hot like this, the first couple of days you see a spike and after that, people stay in,” she said.

That isn’t true for the center’s basketball courts and other outdoor sports options, Jury said.

Area children often look for things to do while school is out, no matter how high temperatures climb, she said.

Gary Hansley, manager for the Elizabethtown swimming pool on North Miles Street, said the pool has seen increased attendance in proportion with the increasing heat.

He worries about where local children will go to cool down and splash around once the pool closes.

“The city has a lot of ball fields,” he said. “We’ve only got one pool.”

Lois Niswander, manager of Baskin-Robbins on Dixie Avenue in Elizabethtown, said the store is busy at all times of the year.

Summer heat means the shop requires extra employees and more ice cream to keep up with between two and three times the demand that employees see during the rest of the year, she said.

“Today, when we opened the door, nine people walked in,” she said.

Niswander said employees work fast to keep up with the demand.

Of course, hot weather is not all about splashing in a pool and enjoying cold sweets.

Dean Thomas, safety foreman for the Elizabethtown Public Works department, said the general rule for the crew is “know thyself.”

Department employees spend nearly all their time in the heat. That can be dangerous when temperatures reach the 90s, considering asphalt makes the immediate temperature about 20 degrees hotter than the surrounding area.

That’s why employees have safety meetings reminding them of warning signs, the importance of drinking plenty of water and to watch out for their coworkers, Thomas said.

“We look out for one another,” he said.

An additional risk of working long hours in the heat is the possibility of a worker becoming disoriented around traffic construction and stumbling out in front of an oncoming vehicle, Thomas said.

That’s why he asks motorists to be aware and drive slowly around work sites.

Employees know the warning signs and the importance of taking breaks, and it is unusual for someone to need medical attention because of the heat, Thomas said.

The crew members work hard, even when the heat means they need plenty of water and frequent breaks, he said.

“When they get the task at hand, the motivation for them is seeing it completed,” Thomas said.

The biggest danger presented by the weather is often to children, the elderly, the mentally ill, people with physical ailments and pets.

Accuweather.com reports 20 children in the United States already have died this year of heat stroke after being left alone in cars, and death can occur in as little as 15 minutes.

More than half of those deaths were from a caretaker forgetting about a child in a vehicle.

A car’s temperature can increase by 19 degrees in 10 minutes and by about 50 degrees in two hours, according to the report. Temperatures climb even more in cars with dark interiors and on the sunny side of the car.

Children heat up four times faster than adults, which can make such conditions fatal within 15 minutes, according to the report.

Residents are advised never to leave children unattended in vehicles and to call 911 if they see unattended children in vehicles.

They also are asked to first check pools and vehicles when searching for missing children and give themselves visual reminders of children in the back seat, such as putting a child’s stuffed animal in the front seat or the driver’s purse or cellphone in the back seat near the child.

To help the elder, also at risk from heat, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises visiting adults at risk at least twice each day and watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

They should also encourage seniors to increase fluid intake and take them somewhere that is air-conditioned if they have transportation problems.

Amber Coulter can be reached at (270) 505-1746

or acoulter@thenewsenterprise.com.