A heat wave of historic proportions is baking the Bluegrass with temperatures hovering near triple digits for four straight days.
It’s the kind of extreme weather that will make everyone a little hot under the collar, and for some, it could pose a serious, even deadly, health risk.
“It’s just going to be a tough weekend for a lot of folks, especially the elderly,” Sheila Cain, acting director of the Danville-Boyle County Senior Citizens Center, said Thursday afternoon with thermometers around town showing 98 degrees or higher.
The forecast caught the attention of Danville City Manager Ron Scott, who began wondering on Thursday morning what might be done to offer folks, especially those without air conditioning, ways to avoid becoming overheated. Fans might not be enough to keep people cool in such withering heat, Scott said.
“This is not a regular event, not something we anticipated,” Scott said. “We’re trying to be mindful of the heat, especially with the elderly. Unfortunately, the elderly suffer and can even die during this kind of heat.”
The senior citizens center on Jean Drive is extending its hours until 6 p.m. today and will be open from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday to accommodate those, no matter what age, who need some place cool to go in the heat of the day.
“We’re usually shut down on the weekends,” Cain said. “But we’ve got volunteers coming in this weekend, and were going to have games and movies and maybe even karaoke. I’ve been stocking up on bottled water, and we may even serve light meals. We want to be hospitable.”
Those who deliver meals for the center have been making a list of people who might need help battling the heat, Cain said, and efforts will be made to check on them and even bring them in to the center to cool down. Scott said Danville firefighters will be on call throughout the weekend to provide free transportation to and from the center to those who need a lift.
Boyle County Public Library also offers a comfortable place to chill during the heat of the day. Assistant Director Georgia de Araujo said the library often sees more traffic on hot days and is expecting an uptick in visitors this weekend.
“We anticipate we’ll see a bit of an increase,” de Araujo said. “We are here for the public to use, and we certainly want people to come in and stay as long as they like. We have plenty of places for people to read, check out magazines, solve puzzles. And we’ve got Wifi, so people are welcome to bring in their own laptops or personal mobile devices and use them here.”
As an extra enticement this weekend, the library will be showing films appropriate for all ages on its big screen in the Community Room downstairs. Movies have not yet been chosen, but showtimes are 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday.
“The only thing we ask is that kids (under the age of 10) be under the direct supervision of their parents or caregivers while they are here,” de Araujo said.
Scott suggested the swimming pool at the William E. “Bunny” Davis Recreation Complex as an affordable heat-beater. Admission is $3, and pool hours are 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, he said.
Scott also called upon the community at large to be on the lookout for those who might have difficulty weathering the heat.
“We’re asking people to be good neighbors and check in on those who might be at risk,” he said.