Hot times: Summer in the city

Hunter Hughes, 5, from Texico, left, jumps into the Grady pool with friend Garrett Page, 5, of Albuquerque, as the two enjoy cooling off from the warm weather Saturday in Grady. Photo by Eric Kluth

By Janet Bresenham

For ideas about how to beat the heat on a sweltering summer day, just follow the sounds of children.
With temperatures soaring recently above the 100-degree mark, nothing beats the pool for cooling off and having a good time.
Christina Montoya spent Sunday afternoon outdoors at Clovis’ Potter Park Pool, watching her son Tyler celebrate his 5th birthday with friends. Swimming has been one of his favorite activities since he was a baby, she said.
“We come at least four or five days out of the week,” she said. “I usually bring my little cousin, Alejandro Vega, with me, too. We grew up at this pool. It’s a lot nicer now here with all they’ve done to fix it up.”
Montoya said she usually swims, as well, to help alleviate the summertime heat.
“Just basically staying inside and coming here, that’s what we do when it’s so hot,” she said.
Lifeguard Nat Masters, who has worked at the Play Inc. indoor pool and now helps manage Potter Park Pool, said the outdoor pool averages about 75 people a day, while Play Inc.’s pool usually sees more than 100 swimmers a day in the summer.
“It seems like attendance is up, with more people than last summer,” Masters said. “For the most part, it feels like it’s been hotter this summer.”
Clovis’ pools stay open from noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and from 2-5 p.m. on Sunday.
Mornings and evenings sometimes are booked for private pool parties, but the parties must be reserved at least one week in advance to allow enough time to schedule lifeguards, Masters said.
In Portales, the municipal pool stays filled with the sounds of children swimming away the summer days from 1-5:45 p.m. every day, seven days a week.
“You start to know a lot of the kids by name,” said Portales lifeguard Eddie Burns. “The majority of kids I know are here all day every day. It’s just the hangout spot, I guess.”
About 50-60 kids and a few adults were swimming Sunday, which is about average, Burns said.
Jessee Aranda, 13, of Portales will enter the eighth grade at Portales Junior High in the fall. But this summer, he has two main ways to stay cool.
“I go swimming a lot,” Aranda said. “And I like to spend time at the movies. That’s about it for the summer.”
His favorite movies this summer that he’s enjoyed in air-conditioned comfort were the new release “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” (or “LXG,” as he calls it) and “Finding Nemo.”
For all the fun in the sun, it’s important to remember simple safety steps to keep the kids — and adults, for that matter — hydrated and out of danger from heat exhaustion, especially if they are spending any time outdoors, according to Lt. Karen Burns, who serves as a fire prevention officer for the Clovis Fire Department.
“The bottom line is fluids are not cokes or Kool-Aid or things like that,” Burns said. “We need to really push our kids to be drinking more water and Gatorade or something that replenishes the fluid because they replace the things their body needs.”
Avoiding the prime heat of the day and checking frequently to make sure there are no signs of heat exhaustion, such as feeling dizzy, light-headed or tired, can help.
“As humans, we’re already slightly dehydrated because we don’t drink enough water anyway,” Burns said. “Then, with spending so much time in the sun and the heat, we need to take in plenty of fluids.”