Scorching. Blistering. Oppressive. Brutal. These were the words frequently used by locals around town seeking relief from temperatures that climbed into the 90s Wednesday afternoon.
The National Weather Service had issued an air quality alert indicating that ozone conditions near ground level may approach or exceed unhealthy standards. Coupled with a temperature high of 93 degrees, and a next-day forecast of 95 degrees, the news was unwelcome to most. They scurried to find air conditioning, cool drinks, ocean water and shade, while local advisory groups issued hot weather warnings and dispensed tips for keeping cool.
Fabiola Mota, who was taking care of one-year-old Ben Branson, had parked herself right by the water at . The Brazilian said, “When it’s this hot, the best place to be is the beach. Even when it’s 100 degrees inland, it’s cooler by the water, especially with the breeze… and you save on your air conditioning bill. I like to put my beach chair right in the water and keep my feet in there – that’s the best way to keep cool.”
Stepping out of the Sound nearby was Chelsea Torrance, 19, and friend Jenn Babbino, 20, who were starting their summer break from college. “We came down from Trumbull to Penfield to escape the heat,” Babbino said. “We’re making a lot of trips to the water. It’s nice and cool and refreshing. We’ve also got a lot of bottled water with us and are keeping under our umbrella. With the breeze, it doesn’t feel like it’s in the 90s.”
Squatting right down in the water further along the shore was a trio from Bridgeport. “I figured the beach would be the best way to keep cool versus staying in the house,” said Wilfredo Difre, the male of the group. “It’s nice down here.”
Splashing around beside him, Shelly Inthisone, 18, added, “Life’s a beach. It’s really relaxing.”
While these beachgoers could enjoy their cooling strategies, others like landscaper Edwin Barrios were toiling away in the sun. “We’re pretty used to the heat,” he said about himself and two fellow co-workers, who were tending to a yard on Reef Road. “We’ve been doing this for 20 years. We’ve got a cooler with cold water and a lot of ice to keep cool. We take breaks often, too, so we don’t overheat.”
Conor Roach, 21, was another working up a sweat outdoors. The employee, who was shoveling mulch into wheelbarrows from the back of a truck at the , said, “It’s pretty hot already and being surrounded by mulch makes it even hotter. There are lots of bugs flying around, too, and I’m getting to know them pretty well. We’re taking breaks once every two hours to sit in the shade.”
Inside the center, Executive Director Claire Grace said she is always mindful of the town’s elder citizens in hot weather like this. “We tried for several years to get seniors to come to the center to cool off and stay all day on hot days like this, but they don’t take us up on it,” she said. “If they’re going to stay home, I’d advise keeping the shades drawn, dressing loosely and drinking plenty of fluids. In the cases where there are low-income seniors who are without air conditioning, we are in a position to help with getting a fan.”
The police had similar advice to give. “Drink plenty of fluids, stay indoors and stay tuned to Channel 12 for advisories,” suggested one officer.
Other workers around town could be found seeking shelter from the sun in and around area cafes and eateries. Dr. Jen Epstein of Kids First Pediatric Dentistry was enjoying lunch with co-workers under an oversized umbrella in front of Firehouse Deli. “Our office, fortunately, is nice and air-conditioned,” she said. “So, in terms of the heat, I’m just hearing about it second-hand. I look forward to taking a dip later at the beach, though.”
Plastic surgeon Anya Kishinevsky was on a lunch break at , enjoying an iced tea and the breeze from several ceiling fans. “I actually love the heat,” she said. “I’m one of those women who’s always cold – so I’m miserable in the winter and thrilled in the summer.”
Another town worker taking a lunch break, admittedly a late one, was Kim Nagy of Orthopaedic Specialty Group, who was cooling off at . “With the heat, I didn’t have a big appetite today,” she said. “I’m hooked on these iced coffees though. They’re definitely cooling. Combined with the a/c, this is a good recharge.”
On her own time and strolling with her young daughter Amika along the sidewalk near Victoria’s Secret, Fairfielder Meghna Chavan said she was keeping cool by “mostly staying inside, and drinking lots of cold smoothies and lemonade. But if we have to be out, we go to stores with air conditioning.”