Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV


June 27, 2012

The heat is on: Forecast calls for more lemonade

— Get ready to crank up the air-conditioner. The next couple of days are going to be hot. Forecasters are predicting temperatures to climb into the low-to-mid 90s beginning Thursday, and to stay that way through the weekend.

Even Nature’s Air-Conditioned City could find itself sweltering. A high of 92 is expected Friday in Bluefield. Saturday it will climb to 93. So there is a good chance we could see a couple more Lemonade Days in the two Bluefields as we approach the weekend.

While it may not be unusual for other parts of the country to record summer readings into the mid-to-high 90s, such an occurrence is more of a rarity for our region.

You see there is something special about the mountains and the geography of our area. We rarely hit 90 degrees in Bluefield. And we rarely reach the mid-to-upper 90s in the mountains of southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia.

The late H. Edward “Eddie” Steele realized this 73 years ago when he dared to dream of a unique promotion that would put the city of Bluefield on the national map.

Initially, Steele, then secretary of the Greater Bluefield Chamber of Commerce, came up with the idea of offering free rooms at the West Virginian Hotel if the temperature reached the 90-degree mark. He was forced to scrap that idea when an Odd Fellows convention was in town and the promotion proved too expensive. Steele then came up with the simple yet brilliant idea of serving free lemonade in the city when the mercury climbed above 90 degrees. At about that same time, he also authored Bluefield’s time-tested slogan, “Nature’s Air-Conditioned City.” However, it would be two years later before the mercury would actually hit 90 in Bluefield in the pre-war summer of 1941.

As the mercury begins to climb today, it is important for all of us to take a few common sense precautions. Stay in the shade as much as possible, drink plenty of fluids and seek an air-conditioned location if possible — even if it means just going to the mall or catching a movie inside of an air-conditioned cinema. Don’t spend a lot of time outside working or exercising in the sun and extreme heat. If you must be outside for a long period of time, drink plenty of fluids and be mindful of symptoms of heat exhaustion.

Heat exhaustion can cause muscle cramps, low blood pressure, rapid pulse and nausea. It can be treated at home, by drinking water, getting into an air-conditioned room or sitting in front of a fan and misting the body with cool water.

If cooking inside, use a microwave oven instead of a regular stove, which will generate additional heat. Pulling down shades and closing blinds during the hot daylight hours can also help. Placing fans at doors and windows can help circulate air through homes and apartments.

Everyone, including the elderly in particular, should take it easy. Go inside. Crank up the air-conditioner if you have one. If you don’t have an air-conditioner, turn on a fan or seek an air-conditioned location.

But, above all, take precautions. Drink plenty of water. Don’t overexert yourself. And don’t spend a lot of time outside in the sun.

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