When it’s really hot, people will find ways to stay cool.
While city staff handled some maintenance issues for the wave pool at The Beach Ottumwa on Friday, moms and dads took their youngsters to swim at the YMCA or out of town.
“I was wondering why there were so many cars from Ottumwa,” said Joann McDonald, manager at the Monroe County Aquatic Center in Albia. “They’re parked all the way down the hill and around the soccer field.”
McDonald said there was “kind of an average” crowd size Thursday, but that changed.
“Today (Friday) I had to call in a total nine lifeguards. We normally have seven.”
“The whole week, the pools have been busier,” said Courtney Wares, the Ottumwa YMCA aquatics director. “Today especially — there’s a lot of kids in the pool for open swim.”
Thomas Reed of Agency was in Ottumwa Friday to stop by his daughter’s house. His advice: “Just stay out of the sun and stay hydrated.”
That’s what he was doing during the hottest part of the day. He had stopped at the air-conditioned Ottumwa Public Library to read the newspaper and stay cool.
There’s only so much one wants to sit at home, so to get out of the house, he picks air-conditioned places like stores and the library.
“We’ve become so acclimated now to having air conditioning,” he laughed.
Growing up, he remembers his family sitting outside, in front of the house even at midnight to catch a breeze. Or the kids would find the coolest place indoors, like the cellar.
He laughed as he remembered those days.
“You’d say, ‘I get the bath tub!’ and you’d lay in there because it was a few degrees cooler.”
Former Ottumwa resident Billy Lanning of Troy, Mo., was in Central Park with his family. They were just finishing some canteens at a picnic table.
“Since this is my father’s hometown, we’ve made it a tradition to stop any time we’re passing Ottumwa,” he said.
They go to The Canteen Lunch in the Alley, then take their food for a picnic amongst all the historic buildings of Central Park.
“My father used to work at the hotel (Hotel Ottumwa), and I’m sure the courthouse was here when he was born [in the 1920s].”
After asking, “What happened to the Indian statue?” on top of the Wapello County Courthouse, he said the heat in the park — it hit 99 degrees — was actually not uncomfortable.
“The Canteen wasn’t too crowded, but my daughter likes the park. There’s a good breeze going ... and because it’s so dry, if you find a place in the shade, it’s not bad.”
If the current pattern keeps up, though, next month will be hot, too. Iowa’s state climatologist, Harry Hillaker, told the Courier that “nearly every month this year has been warmer” than in the previous year.
Yet that ever-increasing group of area residents who have embraced physical fitness as a lifestyle are not using the heat to make excuses. They are, however, playing it smart, said Wares at the Y.
“It’s too hot to run outside, so instead of taking their evening jog, [members] are coming in here because they still have to work out,” Wares said. “About double the average amount have been coming in to work out.”
They sweat, but it’s not as bad as running in the sun; the room with the treadmills, stair steppers and stationary bikes also has air conditioning.
Paramedic Dave Howard at Ottumwa Regional Health Center said despite the heat, area residents really do seem to understand what steps they need to take in order to avoid heat emergencies.
“We have not responded to very many this season with the ambulance, at least no more than normal,” said Howard.
Walk-in patients suffering from heat exhaustion, heat stroke or heat cramps at the ORHC emergency department have been “normal,” too, he said.
“People are following what they should be doing, and for the most part, are taking care of themselves.”
Summer life goes on during relentless heat wave ... but with changes
When it’s really hot, people will find ways to stay cool.
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