Hide yo' kids, hide yo' self — from the sun's ungodly heat, that is — 'cause it's going to be pretty unbearably hot this weekend, and into next week. Pretty shitty timing considering it's HOOPFEST, and IRONMAN weekend, arguably the biggest outdoor sports weekend of the year for the Inland Northwest.
Let's also not forget that all of Washington state was declared in a drought back in May, due to non-existent snowpack levels in the mountains, which now means many Northwest streams and rivers are at all-time flow lows.
To combat the weekend heat, Ironman organizations have moved the start time of the race up a half-hour, from 6 am to 5:30 am. Plus, there are many places to escape the heat-radiating asphalt in downtown Spokane if you're heading to Hoopfest.
The Spokane Convention Center hosts Spokane Fanfest, offering free access to the center's restrooms and tables (you can also pay to rent a table or a room). Food trucks, a beer garden and live music round out the weekend event, open Friday through Sunday.
Meanwhile, the downtown branch of Inland Northwest Bank (INB) is also opening its doors to the public as a place to cool off between games, but note that you do need to pick up a ticket to gain entry from an INB location before the event. Tickets are only available on a first-come, first-served basis since space is limited. The hospitality area is offering free food, beverages, massages, a kid's area and athlete warm-up zone.
Several blocks west, the Bing Crosby Theater is also welcoming hoopsters into the air-conditioned theater on Saturday, from 9 am-5 pm. Wristbands are $3/person, and give access to the theater, which hosts kid's programming and massages. Beer, wine and food are also for sale.
While the regional weather forecast has included highs as hot as 108 degrees, the National Weather service is now saying the forecast could be a couple degrees lower than initially predicted: Saturday may hit 99 degrees, with Sunday reaching 103 and Monday hitting 97.
To offer relief from the heat to residents who are unsheltered or otherwise without access to air-conditioning, the city of Spokane has partnered with several public venues to open cooling centers starting Friday. The cooling centers are hosted at six Spokane Public Library branches (Downtown, East Side, Hillyard, Shadle, South Hill and Indian Trail), and at the Salvation Army and the Women's Hearth.
While evening temps are going to be pleasantly warm enough that building a campfire or backyard fire is probably unnecessary, the Spokane and Coeur d'Alene fire departments have issued burn bans until further notice. For the city of Spokane, that ban includes fire pits, bowls and other ground campfires. Barbecues and enclosed fireplaces are not part of the restriction.
With all these safety measures in place, it's critical not to forget the health dangers high temperatures can pose. The Spokane Regional Health District issued a precursory warning to the public, reminding them to drink plenty of water and to know the signs of heat exhaustion: feeling faint or weak during exercise or other physical activities; nausea, lightheadedness, muscle cramps and swelling in the feet or ankles. Infants and children under age four, people age 65 or older and those who are overweight are at the highest risk of heat-related illness, the SRHD says.
Also remember that if you plan to drink alcohol or caffeine in the heat, you'll become even more dehydrated and will need to drink even more water than normal.
Don't forget about the heat's impact on your pets. Make sure they have shade, access to plenty of water and don't take them out to walk on hot pavement, which in intense heat can actually burn paw pads.