Dangerous triple-digit weather gripped the D.C. region Friday, sending a handful of people to the hospital but mostly causing residents to sweat uncomfortably in the near-suffocating weather.
It was the second day of a heat wave that has hit the area hard, with emergency services responding to more than 100 heat-related calls before noon.
It remained warm into the night Friday after a day of triple-digit temperatures. Many ambulance workers and patients were miserable in the heat. About half the city's 40 units have no or only little air conditioning. Some ambulance workers had to be treated for heat exhaustion themselves.
Auto mechanic Tony Cifuentes was trying to cope without air-conditioning. Inside the Georgia Avenue BP where he works, it’s 10 to 15 degrees hotter than outside.
Cifuentes uses a mini fridge to help cool off and tries not to overheat like the cars he works on.
Air-conditioning technician Edwin Loureiro has been going house to house, working up to 16-hour days fixing ten or more units a day, he says. The calls for broken air-conditioning units have been non-stop.
Daeshell King, seven months pregnant with twins, wound up at Shady Grove Adventist hospital Friday after nearly collapsing at a bus stop.
She was dizzy, lightheaded, shaking and felt like she was about to feint. She was worried she was about to go into labor. After getting rehydrated, she felt much better and went home.
Hundreds were also without power Friday. In the District of Columbia, 478 were out of power while 253 were out of power in Montgomery County. Pepco also reported that Prince George's County had 503 customers without power.
The elderly are especially vulnerable to the heat. Not all seniors realize the danger that high temperatures can cause. Because some seniors suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia, they may forget to use their air conditioner or become confused about how to cool down once they’re overheated.
Some care-givers say they have to perform what they call “heat interventions” with a number of clients, which means they go in and turn on the air conditioning or take off robes and blankets to keep seniors cool.
Montgomery County deployed its mass casualty ambulance bus for its own firefighters, who fight blazes wearing 50 pounds of gear. the University of the District of Columbia’s Van Ness Campus announced it will close today due to the heat. School officials have also canceled all scheduled activities.
The heat hung on overnight, so even the normal cooler morning hours were oppressive.
“It's unbearable,” said postal carrier Steve Prescott. “Unreal.”
Relief from the heat meant heading into an air conditioned movie theater. Others, like the customers in front of a Georgetown cupcake shop, fanned themselves and drank water.
“I'm feeling hot,” said Missy Windsor. “It's like hard to breathe.”