Despite a sizzling summer solstice, some people braved the heat in an effort to stay active.
A group of people took to Union College’s College Park Turf for running, jumping jacks and even a little soccer. One member of the group said they had plenty of water on hand to keep hydrated and kept some ice-cold towels around to cool off.
Keeping cool might have been a difficult task for many Wednesday as temperatures soared into the mid-90s. The heat index, a combination of heat and humidity, ranged from 100 to 108 degrees. Those factors combined to encourage the National Weather Service in Albany to issue a heat warning until 8 p.m. Wednesday.
Hugh Johnson of the National Weather Service said the heat advisory should not extend into today.
“Different people have different philosophies, but we have certain numbers that have to be reached for us to issue an advisory — if we get those numbers, we’ll issue one. If we don’t, then we won’t,” he said.
Johnson said today won’t be as humid as Wednesday, but still advised those going running or biking to do so either early in the morning or in the evening and to avoid strenuous activity between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
“Around 5 p.m. the angle of the sun starts to become less intense,” Johnson said.
Joe Greene was riding along the Mohawk-Hudson Bike Path near Union College around noon Wednesday, on his way to pick up his truck, which was being repaired.
“It’s not so bad when you’re pedaling, especially under cover,” he said, indicating a canopy of interlacing tree branches. “It’s worse when you’re walking — you can’t keep up a breeze that way.”
Retiree Dwight Wilson, out riding his bike, said being sensitive to his own body’s needs and limits helps keep him safe. He said he runs or tries to do something outside six days a week. He said he adjusts his activities based on the weather. He didn’t go running Wednesday, but he did go on a 20-mile bike ride.
“When you’re used to it, you get to know what’s going on in your own body,” he said. Wilson said running is, for him, more physically demanding than biking.
“I usually run five or six miles — so if I go out three miles and have to come back three miles, and it’s a hot day and I get exhausted three miles out … the heat just multiplies the difficulty.”
Monique Watson, who was walking her dogs on the bike path, moved to Schenectady from New York City nine months ago. She says a Schenectady summer can be different from what she’s used to.
“Schenectady is extremely hot. It’s not like in New York, where you’ve got all these tall buildings giving you some shade. Everything in New York is lights, air conditioning and people. Here I get that direct sunlight beaming right down on my head,” she said.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation issued an air quality health advisory for parts of the state, but the Capital Region was not included Wednesday, spokeswoman Lisa King said.
“Our experts look at pollution levels day by day, and if we think an advisory is warranted, we issue one,” King said.
When an air quality advisory is in effect, King said, young children and people outside and active should limit their activities between the early afternoon and evening hours. When ozone levels are high, people who overexert themselves can experience shortness of breath, chest pains and coughing.
Dr. Robert McHugh, a physician at Ellis Hospital, said when summer first begins, people aren’t used to hot temperatures and may overexert themselves.
“At times like these, when you’ve got one or two hot days, most of the patients we see are victims of overexertion,” he said.
To keep cool, McHugh said drinking water is best. As long as you’re eating, too, he said, you don’t need the extra nutrients that sports drinks supply.
“But if you’re going to drink a sports drink, the half-strength ones are probably best,” he said. “Studies show that the body absorbs water better when there’s a little sugar in it, so that’s why the half-strength ones are better.”
McHugh recommended that people venturing outside for a ride or a run should have a drink before heading out. During their run, they should continue to sip water to keep themselves “topped off.” If a person is going to be doing strenuous labor outside, McHugh recommended frequent breaks. At temperatures like these, McHugh said, a half-hour break for every half-hour of labor would be appropriate.
“Keep drinking. If you haven’t been using the bathroom in a few hours, you’re dehydrated. A headache is the first symptom of dehydration,” he said. “Sometimes people who are dehydrated can suffer from heat cramps, or they might have trouble breathing or feel some confusion.
“If you start to feel confused, that’s when heat stroke starts to set in. That’s the time to go to a hospital. And you don’t have to be dry to get heat stroke; you can be sweating and still going into heat stroke, as well.”