As the summer months progress in Phoenix, the blasting daytime heat can seem daunting and an unusual shift happens – our city resets itself to a nocturnal clock. From outdoor activities and jobs, to business hours and nature trails, schedules change throughout the city to be open earlier and later, avoiding the peak heat of the afternoon.
Whether we like it or not, climate change and the urban heat island effect are making Phoenix one of the fastest-heating cities in the US. With its position as one of the hottest major metropolitan areas in the country already, this is putting us on the forefront of how cities adapt to a warming world. Our Sonoran Desert surroundings may hold part of the answer. Like much of the desert’s tenacious flora and fauna, life switches to a crepuscular schedule of activity centered around sundown and sunrise.
What Comes Naturally
Phoenix has over 200 miles of hiking, jogging, biking and riding trails and while they may be empty at high noon, summer doesn’t leave them empty. Instead, fitness routines and nature hikes switch to early and late hours. Runners routinely set off before sunrise to avoid the worst of the heat. Similarly, many nature trails in the city stay open later to accommodate hikers and avoid dehydration and heat stroke emergencies that occur while the sun is out.
Similarly, sports and nature lovers shift their activities to evening games and morning meetups. Kayaking, swimming, and other summer outdoor activities come alive in the predawn hours. The social life of the city moves toward the nightlife, with concerts, festivals and activities scheduling themselves after the sun sets to give visitors a respite from the heat.
Spring Forward, Fall Back
While Arizona is a notorious holdout to Daylight Savings Time, the summer season puts the city of Phoenix on a totally different time clock. For anyone working outdoors, shifts can begin in the wee hours of the night.
Construction materials like concrete need to set in temperatures below Phoenix’s daytime extremes which means that much of the city’s building industry moves its schedule into the cool of the night. Construction workers often need to go on full vampire-time reporting for work around 11 pm or midnight and finishing their “days” in the early morning hours.
People involved with landscaping and similar outdoor jobs are often asked to report for work around 5 or 6 am, to get jobs done by the early afternoon and the worst of the sun’s wrath. Summer outdoor workers often have to plan their activities strategically, tackling the hottest areas of a job before the day truly heats up.
The summer heat isn’t just harsh in Phoenix, it’s extremely dangerous. Last year over one third of our daytime temperatures hit 100°F or above. Compared to temperatures recorded in the 1940s, Phoenix nights are averaging 9°F hotter. This means that citywide heat awareness is stepping up to keep people healthy and alive even in extreme temperatures.
Waves of summer heat cause deaths every year as well as many hospitalizations for dehydration, heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Already vulnerable populations in the city may be the hardest hit by heat, with over half of last year’s deaths being adults aged 65 and over.
To help mitigate the health impact of extreme heat, the city of Phoenix is designing for it. Public health campaigns and resources help the population shift its outdoor schedule to safer, cooler hours. Later hours on businesses, public trails and even the Phoenix Zoo, help encourage health amidst the heat.
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When Phoenix heats up, CC Sunscreens can help you keep your balance. Adding sunscreens to your home is a sustainable way to keep the worst of summer at bay. Unlike air conditioning, your sunscreens are always at work for you, cooling your home at no cost. Want to know how sunscreens can give your home a boost? Contact us today!