When summer heat hits central Indiana, people start looking for ways to cool off.
One of the annual hot spots for Putnam County residents -- especially the children -- is the city pool located at Greencastle's Robe-Ann Park.
In the past couple of weeks, hundreds of children and families have been flocking to the aquatic center to take a dip in the clear waters of the pool or plunge down the curlicue water slide.
Nature appears to be poised to bring an end to the heat today, by way of a stormy cool front, but that doesn"t worry pool officials who are nearing the end of a very successful summer season.
"The weather has been great for the pool season," Greencastle Parks and Recreation Director Rod Weinschenk said.
He told members of the Greencastle Park Board Wednesday night that the recent string of hot temperatures has led to a greater than normal attendance at the aquatics facility, to the tune of more than 200 in the last day or so.
Weinschenk said that normally during the week following the county fair, families are focused on getting ready for the start of school or trying to get in one last vacation before the summer ends. Not so with temperatures in the mid-90's and heat indices past the century mark.
Looking back on the past couple of months, Weinschenk said he is pleased with the way things have gone. Aside from the occasional cut or scrape on a child's leg to a small toy getting caught in the filter system, the 2006 swimming season has gone off without a hitch.
"Overall things have gone pretty smoothly," Weinschenk said.
But like the saying goes, all good things must come to an end.
At Wednesday's park board meeting, Weinschenk announced that the pool would officially be closed for the season on Saturday, Aug. 19. The pool will be open for adult swim from 11 a.m. to noon that day, to be followed by open swim from noon to 6 p.m.
Come the following Monday, the pool will be drained and readied for next year, Weinschenk said.
Although the city pool is preparing to close down for the season, hot weather can continue for weeks and heat-related illness is still a concern for many.
Putnam County Hospital reports only a handful of heat-related cases in the emergency room this week, mostly minor problems related to heat exhaustion or dehydration.
"For the most part people seem to be using common sense," Debbie Sadler, an EMT at the hospital, said.
The Indiana Dept. of Health warns that extreme heat can lead to many types of dangers, including heat stroke and heat exhaustion.
"People naturally sweat to cool themselves off," State Health Commissioner Judith A. Monroe, M.D. said in a press release this week. "However, exposure to the kind of heat we're expecting, sweating isn't enough to provide relief. In this kind of heat, the body's temperature rises rapidly, which could damage the brain and other vital organs."
Heat stroke, or sunstroke, is a life-threatening condition where the body is not able to cool itself down, the health department says.
Heat exhaustion causes an increase in blood flow to the skin which causes less blood to be pumped to the vital organs of the body.
Finally, heat cramps are muscular pains in the abdomen, legs and arms that are caused by strenuous activity performed in the heat.
State health officials advise people to stay inside if possible and avoid extreme activities outside when the mercury soars.
They also say to drink lots of water even if you don't feel thirsty. And they suggest wearing lightweight or light colored clothes, avoid drinking alcohol or caffeine, eat small meals -- but eat often -- and avoid using salt tablets unless suggested by a doctor.
Additionally, fans are good to circulate the air and cool the body when it sweats. But hopefully, natural cooling will occur later today and the air-conditioners will get a break.
The National Weather Service said there is a 50-percent chance that thunderstorms will cool things off later in the day on Thursday, but temperatures are still expected to reach well into the 80's. The forecast calls for highs in the mid-80's this weekend but with lower humidities.