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Ways to beat the heat becoming hot commodities

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David Brazy
Frank Schultz
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
— People seeking relief from the stifling heat and humidity found their way to Harris Ace Hardware, Janesville, and cleared out the store’s air conditioner stock.

Store Manager Bryan Krueger said the last of their window air conditioning units sold at about 10:30 Tuesday morning.

“We are all sold out, and we are having a hard time finding any more units because of the hot weather across the Midwest,” Krueger said. “There is pretty much nothing available right now.

They also were running low on fans—from small tabletop units to the big window box fans.

The heat also was taking its toll on air conditioners already installed.

Jason Cox, owner of JC Heating and Air Conditioning, reported a spike in repair calls for older air conditioners.

The combination of constant use and the heat stresses the machinery, Cox said.

“We are expecting to stay busy the rest of the week,” Cox said.

Power consumption

As the air conditioners hummed and fans spun, energy use across southern and western Wisconsin is up significantly.

Alliant Energy spokesperson Steven Schultz said the company hit peak power use in Wisconsin at 5 p.m. Tuesday, using 2,487 megawatts of power. Compared to an ordinary summer day, that’s up quite a bit, Schultz said. Alliant Energy expects the high power usage to continue for the rest of the week or until the weather cools.

Schultz said they are not expecting any problems meeting the high demand.

“We have plenty of capacity available for the demand we are expecting today and the rest of the week … reliability has improved a lot over the last few years,” Schultz said.

Little relief

The National Weather Service at Sullivan predicted Tuesday that the heat would peak in the high 90s today, making it the four straight day with the highs over 90.

The high temp finally could dip below 90 on Friday, but it’s back up to 90 on Saturday. Thunderstorms are possible Thursday through Saturday, but the chances aren’t great.

Human health

State emergency officials had received no reports of heat-related deaths as of 3 p.m. Tuesday.

The emergency department at Mercy Hospital and Trauma Center in Janesville reported only “a handful” of heat-related cases so far this week, a spokeswoman said.

Those cases involved a lack of water and prolonged exposure, including a woman who gardened too long and a child who played outdoors all day, the spokeswoman said. No work-related cases were reported.

The emergency staff is prepared for any influx of heat-related cases as the heat wave continues this week, the Mercy spokeswoman said.

A Dean Riverview spokesman reported only one case, on Tuesday, which involved a migraine and vomiting.

Animal health

James Hurley, operations manager at the Rock County Humane Society, had simple advice for pet owners: “If you can’t be outside, your dog shouldn’t be outside either.”

Hurley recommended pet owners cut back on their animals’ exercise, make sure they get plenty of water and keep pets in a cool place.

He suggests letting dogs splash in water instead of walk on blacktop.

If dogs have to be outside, Hurley said, they should be in the shade.

Heat stroke is the biggest threat animals face with the hot weather. Hurley said the warning signs include heavy panting, glazed eyes, restlessness, staggering, vomiting and loss of consciousness.

“You need to act quickly to get their body temperature lowered slowly because you don’t want to send them into shock,” Hurley said. “You also want to get to a vet as soon as you can.”

A release from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection warns owners not to leave dogs in cars, even for just a few minutes.

The release also advises owners of large animals and livestock to not transport animals when it is over 80 degrees, make sure animal areas are well ventilated, provide water and to use sprinklers to help cool animals.

Summer school

Students at the two Janesville high schools and two charter schools all are in air-conditioned classrooms this week, officials said, but about 40 children have just started a two-week course at the Janesville Schools Outdoor Lab.

No heat-related problems have arisen for the children studying nature at the JSOL, said Steve Huth, summer school principal.

Children in third through fifth grades have plenty of water to drink, and the experienced staff is making sure they stay well hydrated, Huth said.

The JSOL shelter has a relatively cool concrete floor and fans, so it’s bearable indoors, Huth said.

“We are in a completely shaded area with good ventilation,” Huth said. “Certainly if the heat indices were such that it was a risk, we could bring them indoors.”

“If parents have a concern about student safety related to weather, they are always welcome to keep that child home,” Huth said.

Today the kids get a cool bonus: They’re taking a trip to the creek.

Last updated: 5:51 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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