Summertime, and the living is easy, but, boy, is it hot
By Joe Olvera ©, 2012
“Summertime, and the living is easy…fish are jumping and the cotton is high… Your daddy’s rich, and your ma is good-looking…so, hush little baby, don’t you cry…”
When George Gershwin wrote that song, he didn’t realize that the little baby was crying because of other factors; she was crying because it’s so damn hot in El Paso. But, those of us who were born and raised here, or those who have grown accustomed to the weather, actually love it here…except for one thing –the Drought!
The drought, which has been in effect for over 120 days has forced El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar to declare a local disaster for the county. Called a Declaration of Local Disaster, it prohibits the sale, use, and possession of any and all fireworks or pyrotechnics within the El Paso area, except for specially designated areas such as Cohen Stadium, the Chamizal National Memorial and Western Playland, where the fireworks can be easily controlled. The ban will be enforced up to July 5, 2012, for a total of 60 hours, unless Texas Governor Rick Perry allows an extension of the ban beyond that date. Perry has already approved that extension, as he did last year.
Although a few drops of rain did fall on the city recently, it did not produce enough moisture to lift the ban. Although the ban has created a financial hardship for vendors, Escobar sees the necessity of preventing any accidents that could lead to catastrophic wildfires, such as the ones that have incinerated thousands of acres in New Mexico, Colorado, and in other parts of the U.S. “We have limited resources for battling fires,” Escobar said. “We depend on volunteer fire departments for safety in the outlying areas,” such as Montana Vista in far east El Paso. She has said that she hopes that vendors understand the need for such safety precautions and that while she feels badly for the economic doldrums such a move can incur, “the safety of our community comes first.”
George de la Torre, the El Paso Fire Department’s public affairs coordinator, said that the heat can cause problems for just about anybody. “Anyone can be affected by the heat of the summer sun with triple-digit temperatures already hitting the El Paso area,” de la Torre said.
“Those most at risk of heat related illnesses are people over 65, the very young, people with low blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, malnutrition, and those taking certain medications.”
Fire officials are warning that those most susceptible are people without air-conditioning in the home. For the prevention of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, people may do the following:
*Drink lots of liquids, water, sport drinks;
*Do not stay in or leave anyone in a closed, parked car during hot weather;
*Limit drinks that contain alcohol or caffeine;
*Perform the most stressful jobs in the cool of the early morning;
*Wear light, loose-clothing, such as cotton so that sweat can evaporate;
*Above all, if you feel hot, do whatever it takes to cool off immediately.