With sweltering heat that feels like 100 degrees or more, summer’s standard greeting — “Hot enough for you?” — seems like a bad joke. Even Toledo’s birds have appeared tortured, walking about with their beaks open, gasping for air.
Tropical-like weather settled over half the nation in recent days, affecting 130 million people in the Midwest and Northeast. It caused water shortages, strains on the electrical grid, health problems — including some deaths, and much misery. In several states, pavement buckled under the heat.
In Toledo during the past week, the heat index hit 100 degrees. The culprit has been a strong high-pressure system anchored over the Ohio Valley and stretching from the Great Plains to the Eastern seaboard. Most states endured 90-degree temperatures, or worse.
Temperatures in New Jersey last week hit a midday high of 105 degrees. New York City endured 97 degrees, as street vendors turned off their grills and coffee machines.
Those of us who are lucky enough to work in air-conditioned offices or buildings, drive air-conditioned vehicles, and live in air-cooled homes should salute workers who broil in steamy plants, sweat in dry cleaners, and fry food in blazing kitchens. Other workers sizzle under the sun while trimming trees, building roads, constructing buildings, repairing roofs, or even fighting fires.
For the poor and homeless, relief is practically unattainable, except for momentary respites from an open hydrant or park sprinkler, or a trip to the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library.
This summer’s hottest weather is not only uncomfortable, but also dangerous. It increases risks of dehydration, heat stroke, and heat exhaustion, and aggravates asthma and other breathing ailments.
Whenever possible, people should cool off at air-conditioned spots such as shopping malls and movie theaters. They need to drink a lot of fluids, stay out of the sun, slow down, avoid caffeine and alcohol, take cool showers, and wear light and loose clothing.
Northwest Ohio finally got some relief this weekend, with a high of about 80 degrees expected today. A cold front has started dropping south from Canada and is sweeping through the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast regions.
Meanwhile, try not to ask people if it’s been hot enough for them.