The National Weather Service has issued an Excessive Heat Watch for the Pittsburgh region from Friday afternoon through Saturday. Temps in the 90s combined with the dewpoint are expected to generate Heat Index Values close to 105.
Three days in Pittsburgh’s recorded history have hit 103 degrees. That temperature was recorded in July of 1881, August of 1918, and on July 16, 1988. That last date was at the end of the longest heat wave in history: a 13-day stretch in which the high was never lower than 90 degrees. The closest Pittsburgh has ever come to that was all the way back in 1878. I was here in Pittsburgh in the summer of 1988 and I’m trying to remember the heat wave. I was working two jobs that summer to pay for my first year of college so I may have missed a lot of it thanks to the Century III Mall air conditioning.
Here’s what you need to know.
- Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
- Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
- Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
- Postpone outdoor games and activities. Don’t put others at risk by trying to power through an event.
- Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat. Be mindful of people who go out in the heat to work for you – like delivery drivers or the person retrieving carts or parking your car. Take frequent breaks if you must work outdoors.
- Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
- Check on your animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. They should have 24/7 access to cool water (be sure to freshen it) and access to shade.
For the critters:
- Put bowls of water in your yard for wildlife and homeless animals. For smaller critters providing small, shallow bowls of water is the best way to make sure they get the hydration they need. If you don’t have any small bowls, then the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) recommendsplacing a stick or stone in a bigger bowl so that the animal can climb its way out of the bowl after it has quenched its thirst.
- More tips for outdoor cats from Alley Cats.
The Carnegie Libraries and other community libraries are good places to beat the heat in someone else’s air conditioning.
The City Spray Parks are good places to cool off. Head to the Mall. Catch a matinee. Stop in some of Pittsburgh’s cultural spaces that are free and open to the public. Visit a friend. Visit a relative or neighbor.
If you are going to be out and about, consider putting some bottled water in your vehicle and distributing it to people you meet along your day. In a cooler even.