PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — There is nothing new about the heat in our Pittsburgh summers, but Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich says, “This heat is a little different here especially with the heat index and humidity.”
The heat indexes are expected above 100 degrees Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and the medical experts say people can get in trouble without even realizing it.
“Particularly in the early phases,” says the UPMC Chief of Emergency Medicine, Don Yealy, M.D., “People think its not really a heat-related symptom, or that a little toughness will help overcome it and that’s really faulty thinking. It often starts with I just don’t feel quite right, my stomach is a little upset, a little sweaty, something all of us might feel at other times unrelated to the heat and ignore for a while.”
Dr. Yealy says that is exactly when you should be seeking shade and hydration.
“That means with water or water-like substance, not with caffeine beverages or alcohol, those things don’t help and they actually hurt,” he said.
Pittsburgh EMS Chief Ron Romano says even children are susceptible to this heat.
“It won’t affect them as quickly but when it does they become very ill very quickly you just don’t see it till it actually hits,” he said.
To help seniors the city is keeping open its senior centers in Homewood, West End, and Greenfield until 7:00 p.m. on Friday and 6:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Pittsburgh Parks and Recreation Director Ross Chapman says their water relief will also be in full operation.
“We have 18 swimming pools that we’re planning to have open, and there are eight spray parks,” Chapman said.
If you are planning on sticking it out at home Dr. Yealy says block as much sunlight coming into the house as you can and make sure air is moving through the house.
“Having airflow, less direct air, are the most important two things to help,” he said.
This is the first summer for Pennsylvania’s new Good Samaritan laws designed to save the lives of children and pets left in hot cars.
“Your car gets to 110 degrees in less than ten minutes,” said Ty Aulgur who lives downtown and he was walking his two Dalmatians this afternoon. “If I see a dog in a car on day like today I’m breaking the window and getting the dog out personally.”
Under the new law, only a first responder can break a window to rescue a pet.
Anyone can do it to save a child and Director Hissrich said.
“If it has to be used so be it, you just can’t leave especially children in vehicles for any amount of time with the heat as bad as it is,” he said.
Having witnessed a child locked in a car last summer Hissrich has a zero-tolerance about it.
“Certainly if we have a child left in a vehicle that will be aggressively prosecuted,” he said.
For firefighters, heat is already their risky business but add the solar punch and it makes it so much worse.
Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire Chief Darryl Jones, Ph.D. says they’ll send extra personnel to all fires for relief purposes and he’s pleading with the public not to open up fire hydrants.
“We do not have a water shortage now but when someone decides to crack open their neighborhood hydrant then we can quickly have one and it robs water volume and pressure where we may need it in an emergency,” he warned.
All the first responders are putting out a common plea to watch out for your elderly neighbors.
“If you don’t hear from them definitely check on them, but stop by throughout the day especially in the afternoon hours,” Hissrich said.