King County prepares for weekend heat wave

July 11, 2014

By Staff

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NEW — 4:25 p.m. July 11, 2014

The mercury could reach 90 degrees in the days ahead, and as temperatures rise, so do the risks for heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

State public health officials recommend people seeking relief from high temperatures to visit air-conditioned places, such as public libraries, shopping malls or movie theaters. Even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help people stay cooler once they get back into the heat.

State Department of Health officials remind people to stay indoors and in air-conditioned environments as much as possible, and to drink plenty of fluids — but not beverages containing alcohol, caffeine or a lot of sugar.

For residents headed outside in the heat, plan strenuous outdoor activities for early or late in the day, before the temperature rises. Remember to take frequent breaks when working outdoors.

Know the signs of heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Overheating occurs if people cannot cool themselves fast enough. The condition can lead to symptoms of heat exhaustion, including muscle cramps, weakness, dizziness, headache, nausea and vomiting. Move a person showing signs of overheating to a cooler location, and ask him or her to rest for a few minutes and slowly drink a cool beverage. Seek medical attention immediately if he or she does not feel better.

In severe instances, people can suffer heat stroke. The condition can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not provided. Symptoms of heat stroke include extremely high body temperature of 103 degrees or more; red, hot and dry skin; rapid, strong pulse; and nausea, confusion and unconsciousness.

Sunny skies and summer temperatures typically draw more people to local rivers, lakes and even Puget Sound to cool off, but officials caution that water bodies remain very cold. River temperatures can still be in the 40-degree range due to snow melt – and lakes aren’t that much warmer.

Kayakers, boaters, rafters, swimmers and other river users should check conditions and scout rivers thoroughly for hazards before entering the water.

Puget Sound Energy is also encouraging its customers to be mindful of their energy use during the heat wave.

The company’s one-hour summer record for power usage was set back on July 27, 2009, the last time an “excessive heat warning” was in effect for the area. As temperatures reached into the 100s, 3,430 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity was used between 7-8 p.m. By comparison, PSE customers’ all-time, one-hour high for power usage was 4,906 MWh set on Dec. 15, 2008.

PSE offered these helpful tips to curb energy consumption as the temperatures rise:

  • Set your thermostat as high as comfortably possible. For those with central air or air conditioning, PSE recommends no lower than 75 degrees. That might seem on the warm side, but customers can save up to 5 percent on their electric bill by taking that simple step.
  • Invest in a programmable thermostat that will automatically adjust the indoor temperature while you’re away.
  • Use fans to help circulate the air. Remember that ceiling fans cool you, not the room, so when you leave the room, make sure to turn off the fan.
  • Make sure to close window blinds and curtains to block direct sunlight.  In the evening, open windows for cross ventilation.
  • Switch out any conventional light bulbs with LED or compact fluorescent light bulbs, which produce 70 percent less heat.
  • Run appliances – such as dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers – at night. A hot dishwasher sends heat throughout the house; run only on full loads and use the ‘no heat’ option for the drying cycle.
  • Consider cooking a later dinner or grilling outside to prevent any additional heat buildup.



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