Epic Heat Wave Hits Detroit: Ways to Stay Cool

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Much of Lower Michigan is getting blasted by scorching temperatures and far-below-average rainfall. City-locked Detroiters have suffered through record high temperatures since May. The Detroit News reports that the city could see its highest temperature ever in the next few days. Here are details about this epic heat wave along with tips on inexpensive ways to cool off in the metro area.

* The National Weather Service is calling for triple-digit temperatures from 98 to 105 degrees. The heat index could hit 110. A temperature of 105 degrees would top Detroit's record set in 1924 (says the Detroit News). 2012 has had the third most 90-plus-degree days after 1988 and 1936. There are several heat-related hazard alerts in effect. Extreme high temperatures may cause heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and dehydration. Children and the elderly are most affected and should be protected from the sun.

* Detroit has had about 2 inches less rain this year than average, reports the Detroit News. The NWS has issued air quality alerts to caution those with asthma, allergies, and respiratory problems. High ozone and from lack of rain and high temperatures trigger those problems.

* The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has also called many Ozone Action Days for Detroit. On those days, you're encouraged to avoid refueling vehicles; painting; and using charcoal, fireworks, or other open fires. Sign up for health and safety alerts from the MDEQ's Enviroflash program. To avoid summer vehicle problems, save money, and reduce ozone issues, check out Detroit's SMART bus, DDOT bus system, or the new Detroit Bus Company.

* Finding relief from the heat poses several dilemmas. Swimming cools you off, but it can also lead to dangerous sun exposure. If you go swimming, come in for a cool down between noon and 4 p.m. Be sure to bring a cooler of ice water to stay hydrated. Huron-Clinton Metroparks are great cool-off spots. Swimming and splash zones are available at Kensington, Lake Erie, Lake St. Clair, Stony Creek, and Willow. Red Oaks and Waterford Oaks (part of Oakland County parks system) have water parks. Most have shady areas, too. If you have respiratory problems, it may be advisable to avoid outdoor areas in the heat. Check the City of Detroit website for local recreation department indoor pools.

* Check out the Detroit Public Library or one of its 20-plus satellite locations. The library schedule is cram-packed with free activities offered in air-conditioned venues. Parents, kids need extra supervision in the heat, and your local library can help. Take advantage of the summer reading programs, films, crafts, story-telling, and educational activities offered.

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