Springfield's top health official 'very concerned' about latest heat wave
City opens cooling centers, urges people to hydrate
Another heat wave is about to engulf the region, and officials in Springfield, Massachusetts have announced steps to keep people safe.
Hot and humid air will flow in to the Northeast the next several days with weather forecasters saying it will, at times, feel like it is well over 100 degrees when you factor in the actual temperature and the humidity.
That kind of heat can put people’s health at risk.
For that reason, the city of Springfield has opened seven cooling centers – places with air conditioning, snacks, and water.
“We’re very concerned about heat stroke particularly among the elderly and our vulnerable population,” said Springfield Health and Human Services Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris.
She encouraged the city’s seniors to come to the cooling centers.
“There are two components to the cooling centers, I think – one is socialization and the other is to hydrate,” Caulton-Harris said. “It is important for our elders to be engaged.”
Caulton-Harris also had advice for people who must work outside in the dangerous heat.
“Stop in our cooling centers if you need water,” she urged, mentioning specifically police officers, firefighters, and construction workers.
As another precaution during the heat wave, the DPW will begin curbside residential trash and recycling collections on Thursday at 5:30 a.m. – 90 minutes earlier than usual, announced Mayor Domenic Sarno.
“It is going to be so-so hot, I want to make sure I preserve and protect my workforce too,” Sarno said.
The Springfield Public Schools will dismiss summer school classes at 11 a.m. on Thursday and there will be no pre-K summer school that day. August 4th is the final scheduled day of summer school in Springfield.
The kind of heat the region is experiencing can expected to become more common said Michael Rawlins, Associate Director of the Climate System Research Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
“Adapting to climate change involves adapting to the heat, adapting to more extreme precipitation events –whether that be really-really high precipitation amounts, intense precipitation events, or, as we’re seeing this summer, these longer dry spells,” Rawlins said. “It is looking like our weather has become more variable.”
Much of the Northeast saw below or near normal rainfall in July and normal to 3-degrees warmer than normal average temperatures last month.
“It’s looking like it was a top-twenty July as far as dry and as far as warm for the region,” said Rawlins in an interview with WAMC.
After keeping cooling centers open during last month’s week-long heat wave, Springfield’s health department found its supply of bottled water dwindling, so Sarno put out a call for donations, and MGM Springfield answered delivering 1,260 cases of bottled water to the city’s operations center on Tapley Street Wednesday morning.
“MGM has been a very very good corporate citizen, and I called and they came through again,” Sarno said. “It’s like hitting blackjack.”