heatwave
© Reuters / Brian Snyder
Birds splash in a fountain during the summer heatwave in Boston, Massachusetts, US, July 19, 2019
As an extreme heatwave hits the US, locals are being asked to look after their older neighbors, activists try to save inmates from baking in prisons, and authorities hurry to take the homeless off the sizzling streets.

The extreme temperatures, reaching as high as 95F (35C), have been plaguing large parts of the US from the Midwest to the East Coast over the past few days. At least six deaths have already been blamed on the extreme heatwave - four in Maryland and one each in Arizona and Arkansas.

In some places, thermometers have hit triple digits, prompting the authorities and meteorological services to release numerous advisories on how to stay cool, open dedicated cooling centers and hold water parties of all sorts.


The town of Braintree, Massachusetts, for example, is urging the populace to "stay cool and hydrated" and to check on elderly neighbors - while the town's police department is telling aspiring criminals about the dangers of committing crimes in the extreme heat.

"Folks. Due to the extreme heat, we are asking anyone thinking of doing criminal activity to hold off until Monday," it said in a tongue-in-cheek Facebook post.

It is straight up hot as soccer balls out there. Conducting criminal activity in this extreme heat is next level henchmen status, and also very dangerous.

It's sound advice, too, considering that accomplished criminals possibly have it even worse in the country's prisons. In New York, advocacy groups sounded the alarm over the lack of air conditioning and summer clothes at Rikers Island Prison, and say the guards there have punished inmates for their attempts to stay cool.


Rikers inmantes have died due to overheating before. In 2014, a prisoner "basically baked to death" in his cell due to malfunctioning heating equipment.

The authorities have apparently heard the activists. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said that proper clothing has been issued, and units without air conditioning have been provided with "fans, ice, water, and access to multiple cool showers." But Rikers is just one example, and numerous prisons across the states remain without functional air conditioning.

Another vulnerable group, the homeless, have been plagued by the heat as well, deprived of air conditioning, shelter, and readily available water. Relief groups and authorities have been trying to check up on the homeless and provide them with some means to fend off the heat. In Indianapolis, police have spent hours distributing cold water to the homeless and directing them to shelters.