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South Sound residents brace for sweltering hot weather

A young boy enjoying the water in the South Sound.
A young boy enjoying the water in the South Sound.
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Some of the hottest temperatures are going to be in the outlying areas around the South Sound, and residents there on Friday were already devising strategies on how to beat the heat.

Many people in the Pacific Northwest only rarely need air conditioning so not everyone is going to have that type of safe sanctuary at home. That has sent many people searching for air conditioned public locations and the natural cooling that comes with being on or near the water.

Tacoma’s ‘spray’ground water parks were not supposed to be reopened until July 1, but the looming recording breaking heat prompted Metro Parks Tacoma officials to reopen the water parks sooner than expected.

“We appreciate metro parks in this town and city,” said park user Rita Schilling. “But yes, it is wonderful that they were able to do it. I was hoping they’d be able to do something because this is a record setting event.”

“We know that these ‘spray’grounds can be one of the few reliefs from the heat that we’re experiencing right now,” said Mike Bornander, Metro Parks Tacoma. “And we know that a lot of the people in this area don’t have air conditioning because it’s only needed a handful of days out of the year.”

The South Sound also is home to dozens of lakes and rivers that are also prime spots for people to cool off with the caution that the water is still icy cold and life jackets can save lives.

That is the concern for the next several days -- if not weeks -- to watch out for one another, especially signs of heat distress.

“Part of the trick is that you may not really feel it,” said Dr. Daniel Henning, UW Medicine. “Really be on the lookout, though, for excess thirst where you feel like you're needing to drink a lot, that you're feeling a little bit weak or dizzy. Especially for people who are a little bit older, feeling weaker, dizzy. If it gets more extreme, you might see people acting more confused.”

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Because of the record-breaking heat predicted for Monday, the Tacoma School District is cancelling summer school that day along with all district activities.

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