In the middle of all of the record-breaking heat in Phoenix—we've had 23 days straight of temperatures 110 degrees Fahrenheit or above, and six consecutive days of temperatures of 115 degrees or more—many children and youth across the Phoenix area went back to school last week, which just sounds awful to me. If folks don't have air conditioning in their homes, though, schools are a great refuge.
At Sanborn Elementary School in Chandler, Arizona last Thursday, librarian John Janezie was helping with after-school crosswalk duties, and discovered yet one more awful thing about this terrible heat: his shoes melted onto the sidewalk. KOLD explains:
Janezic was outside Thursday during the peak of the hot weather, guiding kids through the crosswalk. He was only out for 30 minutes when he decided to head inside and almost fell because his shoes suddenly felt different.
"I was crossing the students, crossing the parents. And all of a sudden, when I was done, I turn around and I'm sweating, I'm tired, I want to come back to the library where it's nice and air-conditioned. As I'm walking back, I trip," Janezic said.
Janezic said the soles of his shoes had melted off because of the hot pavement.
Shoes melting because of the heat is, obviously, merely a nuisance. Much more dire incidents are happening because of these heat waves—people are being hospitalized and dying, which is absolutely unacceptable and highlights the drastic need to address these ongoing heat issues (that are just going to get worse). Ashley Ward, climate health scientist from Duke University explains some of the policies and technologies that can be implemented to address extreme heat:
"All evidence points to increasing global temperatures, so yes, what we're experiencing is likely our new normal. It probably will get worse. Given this, we need to adapt to this new reality by doing things like:
- increasing tree canopies in urban spaces;
- making changes to our building codes that require energy efficient buildings for this new normal, and the new normal that's projected over the 30- to 50-year timeframe;
- supporting policies that help people increase the energy efficiency in their homes;
- increasing our protections for occupational heat exposure. And it's not just outdoor – it's also manufacturing, which gets pretty hot inside;
- training for doctors, midwives and nurses about the increased risk from high heat for their pregnant patients."
Read more about how to address extreme heat here.