September 30, 2023

In the already brutal heat, states are scrambling to prepare for record temperatures

At Penguin Air, Plumbing & Electrical in Phoenix, the relentless heat calls for all hands on deck.

With the Southwest gripped by a severe heat wave and with temperatures in Phoenix expected to reach 118 degrees Fahrenheit this weekend, the local company is preparing for the worst.

“We know that when it’s 119 degrees outside, that means it’s going to be 120 [degrees] plus to your home,” said Jay Kline, general manager of Penguin Air, Plumbing & Electrical. “We’re making sure we have as much coverage as possible to help if people’s air conditioners break in this crazy, extreme heat.”

Phoenix is ​​just one city bracing for sweltering temperatures this week and heading into the weekend. Record high heat is expected to set in across the region, with many spots in the Southwest expected to see temperatures in excess of 110 F on Saturday and Sunday.

Image: Prolonged Arizona heat wave could break record for longest ever (Rebecca Noble/Getty Images)

Image: Prolonged Arizona heat wave could break record for longest ever (Rebecca Noble/Getty Images)

About 84 million people in the United States are under heat warnings Thursday, stretching from the West Coast across the southern plains to South Florida. In places expected to be hardest hit by extreme temperatures, local officials are racing to prepare residents for the onslaught of heat.

Dr. Kai Singbartl, hospital medical director at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, said he has not seen an increase in hospital visits for heat-related illnesses, but cautioned that people should avoid exposure to extreme heat as much as possible and seek help if they have symptoms of heat-related illnesses. experience, such as weakness, tiredness, dizziness or nausea.

“Any heat-related illness is a medical emergency,” Singbartl said. “This could very quickly become a life-threatening emergency. and they should seek help immediately, call 9-1-1 and ask for professional help.

Forecasts show that some parts of Arizona are likely to see record high temperatures between 115 F and 120 F over the weekend.

“Please don’t underestimate the excessively hot temperatures coming this weekend,” officials at the National Weather Service’s Phoenix office said. tweeted Thursday.

Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., said Phoenix is ​​working on ways to mitigate extreme heat, but added that the federal government “needs to act.”

“I have introduced bills to add extreme heat to FEMA’s emergency list and create more shade in urban heat islands,” he tweeted Thursday.

In Nevada’s Clark County, local officials are operating more than 35 refrigeration centers that provide people with respite from the heat. Las Vegas, located in Clark County, is expected to reach 116 F on Saturday and 117 F on Sunday, which could tie the city’s all-time highest temperature record.

In Death Valley National Park, which straddles California and Nevada, high temperatures can reach 129 F over the weekend, prompting the National Park Service to issue a dire warning to anyone planning to visit the park.

“Drink plenty of water and carry extra,” the park service said in an emergency call. “Avoid walking, don’t walk after 10am. Travel prepared to survive. In case of heat-related illness, go to a cool place and seek help immediately.”

In Las Cruces, New Mexico, refrigeration facilities have opened in community centers, public libraries and other spots along busy bus routes, said David DuBois, the New Mexico State Climatologist and director of the New Mexico Climate Center.

“Some people don’t have air conditioning, so we’re focused on just getting people out of the heat,” he said, adding that he’s most concerned about the elderly, underprivileged communities and individuals forced to work outside the home.

Along with local health departments, DuBois said his top priority in the coming days is to educate people in New Mexico about the heat risks and where to take refuge from the scorching temperatures.

“People here are used to hot summers in the 90s, but once you get to 105 or 108 — it was 110 degrees in Carlsbad recently — it’s hard for everyone,” he said.

At Penguin Air, Plumbing & Electrical in Phoenix, Kline said he is prioritizing the health and safety of the approximately two dozen air conditioning technicians who will be in the field this weekend responding to customer calls.

“They work all day in that heat, so we make sure we supply them with ice, water and electrolyte packs,” he said. “We’re constantly trying to remind them to drink fluids because it’s hot and heat exhaustion or dehydration is creeping up on you.”

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