By Mary Frost
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Kids frolicked in the fountain at the newly renovated Walt Whitman Park in on Cadman Plaza East on Wednesday as temperatures soared into the 90s and caregivers dumped buckets of water over their own heads.
The 2.9-acre park — in between the Office of Emergency Management and the federal courthouse — only recently reopened following a $4.5 million transformation, which began in April 2010. Four poems by Walt Whitman are engraved in granite on the base of the fountain, which children activate by tapping on a curved pad set on a nearby post.
Spray showers have all been turned on in parks across the city, a Parks Department spokesperson said Wednesday. There are a total of 746 spray showers citywide -- 220 in Brooklyn, 144 in the Bronx, 203 in Queens, 147 in Manhattan and 32 in Staten Island.
The fountains have been turned on just in time for the broiling temperatures: not only had the National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for Wednesday and Thursday, there is also an air quality alert in effect.
The agency expected the heat index to soar as high as 104 degrees as temperatures in the mid-to-high-90s combined with high humidity.
Due to elevated levels of pollution, the NYS Department of Health recommended that people limit strenuous outdoor activity. People especially susceptible include the very young, people with respiratory problems like asthma or heart disease.
Swimmers should also take precaution, as a “moderate” risk of rip currants was reported.
The NYC Office of Emergency Management are keeping air-conditioned cooling centers open Wednesday and Thursday. Cooling centers are located in senior centers, community centers, and public libraries. To find a nearby cooling center, call 311 or visit www.nyc.gov.
With city pools closed until their seasonal opening one week from Thursday, on June 28, the time-honored New York City method of cooling off — frolicking in fire hydrants — is also a favored option, as long as you use a FDNY-approved fire hydrant spray cap, which can be picked up at a local firehouse.
Dr. Michael Lucchesi, chairman of emergency medicine at Downstate Long Island College Hospital in Cobble Hill, says the Emergency Department is prepared for increased traffic when extreme temps hit the city, but to suggests Brooklynites avoid the need to visit an emergecy room by following these practical tips:
• Spend as much time as possible in air-conditioned public libraries, malls or senior centers.
• Drink plenty of fluids, but beware of sugary, carbonated drinks, which actually increase thirst; and fruit juices, which can interfere with medication. Caffeine and alcohol can cause dehydration — drink only in very moderate amounts.
• Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink. It may be too late.
• Dress for the season. Clothing should be lightweight and loose.
• Bathe in a cool shower or bath.
• Check on your friends frequently and ask them to check on you.
• Dry, hot skin, confusion and hallucinations are all serious signs of heat stroke, for which you should summon medical attention immediately.
“Every summer I see children and adults in the Emergency Department with heat related complications which could have been avoided,” says Dr. Lucchesi. “These common sense measures will help you and the people you love.”
Finally, conserve electricity. If you’re experiencing power difficulties, call 1-800-75-CONED.
2 PHOTO (given to carly) — separate or combined: