As Yalies started classes on Wednesday, a heat wave swept across the Connecticut region, making for a sweaty first day of school on campus and forcing the University to cancel a major first-year orientation event.
“If I didn’t have a fan, I don’t know what I would have done,” Isabel Salinas ’20 said.
For Tuesday and Wednesday, the National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning for Hartford County and heat advisories for all other areas in Connecticut, as temperatures peaked in the mid-90s. Gov. Dannel Malloy issued a warning about the heat in a press release on Tuesday, urging state residents to stay in air conditioning, keep hydrated and avoid liquids with high quantities of sugar.
“It’s suffocatingly hot,” said Michael Gancz ’21. “A lot of people, especially in this academic environment, tend to overexert themselves. And that combined with this heat — people have a general tendency to disregard their own well-being.”
At Yale, the heat wave forced many students to flee their dorm rooms, which are not air-conditioned. A number of sports practices, including a women’s soccer session, could not take place outside on Tuesday because of the heat. And earlier this week, Yale officials adjusted the class of 2022’s orientation schedule to avoid potential health issues, canceling the first-year keynote address because Woolsey Hall lacks air conditioning.
“We are all melting!” Dean of Student Affairs Camille Lizarribar wrote in an email to the student body on Tuesday, announcing that sprinklers would be set off for upper-level students to cool off after a barbeque on Old Campus. On Wednesday, Yale’s Environmental Health and Safety office also sent out an email to the University community outlining the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses.
And Head of Pauli Murray College Tina Lu invited students in her college to sleep in the Murray buttery or basketball court, both of which have air conditioning. “We’ll provide blankets for a little padding,” she wrote in an email to the college community on Wednesday.
Extreme heat events cause more deaths than any other weather-related events in the United States, according to Jennifer Marlon, a research scientist at the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication.
“The elderly, young children and pets are most at risk from heat stress, but so are people working outdoors,” Marlon said. “Because our bodies can’t thermoregulate as well as we age, we become more vulnerable to high temperatures, but most elderly people don’t realize this.”
A lack of awareness of heat-related health issues can make heat waves especially dangerous for the elderly, Marlon noted. She added that climate change will continue to make heat waves “an increasingly large part of all our lives.”
The heat wave has made an impact far beyond Yale’s gates. New Haven Public Schools do not open their doors to students until Thursday. But this week, schools across New Haven County that have already kicked off the year cut classes short due to extreme heat. Public schools in Orange, Milford and West Haven had early dismissals, and the Derby Public Schools system was closed Wednesday.
“It sure is hot out!!! Because tomorrow will be another scorcher, Hamden High School will close at 11:30 AM,” Hamden Public Schools posted on Twitter on Tuesday.
The temperature in New Haven is supposed to go back down to the 80s on Thursday, according to local weather reports.
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