Working up a sweat beating the heat


As heat indexes rise to near triple digits, Johnston residents have been breaking a sweat trying to stay cool. The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory from noon Wednesday to 7 p.m. Friday due to rising temperatures and high humidity.

When the heat becomes unbearable, Johnston residents look for places to cool off.

The Mohr Memorial Library offers a series of indoor activities in the cool oasis of their air-conditioned facility. It will be open during its regular hours for the remainder of the week.

During the heat advisory, the library will offer a drawing class for adults at 3 p.m. on Thursday and knitting and crocheting at 10 a.m. on Friday. At the Johnston Senior Center, a Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency (RIEMA) cooling center, there are many activities to choose from.

Richard DelFino, director of the Johnston Senior Center, says that the staff is willing to be “open as long as we have to be” this week due to the heat wave, extending their hours later into the evenings “if that’s what is necessary.”

He encourages seniors to “stay as long as they want,” given that the center provides activities such as board games, cards, television, and a pool table. Between the comfortable seating, provided lunch, and newly fixed air conditioning, the center will be a great place for seniors to cool down this week. If the heat wave continues into the weekend, the senior center will be open on Saturday and Sunday as well.

Joseph Wendelken, public information officer at the Rhode Island Department of Health, recommended that residents prepare for the heat.

“If outside, do what you can to stay out of the direct sun, wear a hat with a brim, and apply sunscreen,” he said.

“Water is key,” Wendelken added, suggesting people avoid caffeine and alcohol.

“I think for most people, it's an inconvenience,” said Tony Petrarca, chief meteorologist for WPRI-TV. “But, there are certain people and specifically young children, the elderly, people who have health issues, it becomes more of a concern.”

“What makes heat around here dangerous is that it comes with a lot of humidity,” he added. “Your body has a very difficult time cooling itself off where the humidity is high.”

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can often occur during a heat advisory. According to RIEMA, symptoms of heat exhaustion include dizziness, thirst, heavy sweating, nausea, and weakness. If someone is experiencing heat exhaustion, they should be moved to a cooler area, sip water, and loosen clothing. If symptoms do not improve, you should seek medical attention because heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke.

“Just check in on each other,” Petrarca added. “Make sure they stay hydrated.”

Beverly Wiley, Director of Parks and Recreation in Warwick, notes that the beaches in Warwick often get visitors from various other cities and towns. The Warwick beaches opened for the summer season on Saturday, June 15. There are lifeguards working at City Park Beach and Oakland Beach. These beaches can be a more convenient and less expensive option than those in South County. For those who prefer a pool to the beach, McDermott Pool is open during their regular hours. McDermott has a unique indoor/outdoor element because the garage doors can be opened for airflow, Wiley said.

Petrarca warned this current heat wave “can be a signal of things to come.” It’s not rare for temperatures to climb into the 90s — it happens about half a dozen times each summer. But, “It may be more frequent this summer,” he added. “We're anticipating a warmer-than-average summer.”

Emergency Management Coordinator and Johnston Police Chief Mark A. Vieira recommends anyone who can’t beat the heat can stop by the town’s official cooling center, the Johnston Senior Center, at 1291 Hartford Ave (open for cooling starting Wednesday, June 19).

“This type of heat can be dangerous for the elderly, children, and people who work outdoors,” Vieira said. “We urge everyone to take precautions such as staying hydrated and avoiding prolonged exposure to the sun. Residents should check on their neighbors, especially if they are elderly and don’t have air conditioning.  Anyone experiencing heat-related symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, and weakness should seek medical help immediately and call 911. Our officers will be here to assist during this stretch of hot weather.”

Editor’s Note: Ryan Doherty and Greta Shuster are summer editorial interns for Beacon Media.


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