People sought refuge in pools and public buildings yesterday, the second consecutive day of higher-than-average temperatures in the area.

Veterinarians warned the public to watch their pets carefully for signs of heatstroke.

The temperatures peaked in the mid-80s, lower than had been predicted, and significantly lower than the June 21 record of 93 degrees.

Bruce Chase, Augusta’s director of recreation, said that the city’s three public swimming pools have had a lot of use the past couple of days. The Calumet pool had 125 visitors in one day, triple the average number.

“It makes the staff really have to be on alert all the time,” Chase said. “We have to control the number of kids in the pools.”

Still, Chase said that the warm days are welcome.

“It gets people more familiar with the outdoors,” he said. “Our parks are really busy right now, too.”

Anne Davis, director of the Gardiner Public Library, said there have been dozens of extra patrons during the last two days, as people take refuge from the heat in the air-conditioned building.

Many of the added patrons lounge around for hours, using laptops or just hanging out.

Davis said she doesn’t mind.

“A librarian loves to have people come visit the building. We just hope people come back,” she said.

Most of the school buildings in Gardiner-based Maine School Administrative District 11 have no air conditioning, said Superintendent Patricia Hopkins, which can leave secretaries, custodians, administrators and summer school teachers and students sweating throughout the summer.

At Gardiner Middle School, the staff was taking a stoic approach.

“There’s an air conditioner to my left in the wall, but I didn’t turn it on yet,” said Brooks Randolph, a secretary at Gardiner Middle School. “If you have 90-degree days for three days, it starts to feel like an oven in here, but for the first two, it’s not that bad.”

The heat wave has been characterized by significant temperature swings; on Wednesday morning at 6 a.m., it was a cool 59 degrees. By 4 p.m., the temperatures were in the low 90s.

Hot dogs

Veterinary professionals warned pet owners to remember that their animals can suffer in the heat.

Laurie Boulanger, a licensed vet tech at Kennebec Veterinary Services in Waterville, said that she’s seen overexposure to high temperatures kill animals in the past.

According to Karen Curtis, a doctor of veterinary medicine at Garland Road Small Animal Hospital in Winslow, not all pets are at equal risk.

Overweight animals are particularly vulnerable, as are short-nosed breeds including pugs, Pekingese, bulldogs and Persian cats.

“They have a narrower airway than a longer-nosed breed,” Curtis said. “Also, the sinuses in the nose kind of dissipate the heat, and they don’t have the sinuses.”

The staff at the animal hospital measured the temperatures inside vehicles last summer, said Curtis, to show the dangers of leaving a pet unattended in a vehicle.

When it was 88 degrees out, the air temperature inside a test car reached 110 degrees by 9 a.m., despite use of a shade screen, Curtis said.

Even with the windows open, the air temperature in the car was 98 degrees.

Curtis said that they also tested the temperature of the metal floor in the back of a pickup truck.

“It broke the thermometer,” said Curtis. “The thermometer only went up to 120 degrees. Those dogs are in danger of getting their feet burned.”

Curtis said that overheating can begin with a heavy panting, and can escalate quickly to symptoms that include heart irregularities, fluid in the lungs and internal bleeding.

She only treats a few cases of heat stroke in an average year, but that many cases go unnoticed, or are mild enough that they are treated at home, she said.

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