Thursday July 18, 2013

In a summer that’s filled with the hot days you might expect for the season, this week goes beyond the norm into heat wave territory.

"Plain and simple, this week may feel the worst of any week for this summer in the Northeast," Accuweather.com meteorologist told Reuters this week.

Temperatures in the Bennington area are expected to hover near 90 the next couple of days with no relief in sight until a "cold" front begins to move through Vermont Sunday, bringing a forecasted high of 78 and a low of 56 that day and temperatures in the high 70s/low 80s next week.

The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for every day this week, as temperatures and the corresponding heat and humidity index climb to dangerously high levels. A heat advisory is issued if the heat index, which measures how hot it feels when relative humidity is factored with air temperature, reaches 100 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, per the NWS.

High heat is also taxing on our power stores as more folks use air conditioners and fans to cool off. Because of increased demand, New England’s power grid is asking residents to conserve electricity.

Officials at ISO New England suggest steps cut power and avoid possible outages, including setting air conditioning thermostats to between 74 and 78 degrees and turning off unneeded residential lights or equipment. Reducing electricity use in general during the typically high-demand hours between noon and 8 p.m. is also urged.


Advertisement

"The ISO is asking consumers to voluntarily conserve as a precautionary step to help manage system conditions," Vamsi Chadalavada, executive vice president and chief operating officer of ISO New England told the Banner this week.

ISO New England, a nonprofit that oversees the region’s wholesale electricity market, predicted that peak usage for this week will be today, at 27,800 megawatts. They suggest people to put off laundry and other chores requiring electricity until the early morning or late evening hours.

While a forecast in the 90s may seem like garden-variety summertime hot weather for some, but for others, including the elderly, sick and those without air conditioning, it may be a prescription for suffering.

Additionally, heat-related illnesses including fatigue, sunstroke, and heat exhaustion are more prevalent in hot weather. The weather service advises avoiding being out in the heat and sun for long and not to leave pets or children in parked cars as the interior temperatures could prove fatal.

The American Red Cross offers these tips for keeping your cool during a heat wave:

* Drink plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.

* Eat small meals and eat more often.

* Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors that absorb the sun’s rays.

* Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.

* Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat.

* Take frequent breaks if you must work outdoors.

* Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.

* Check on animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from heat stroke.

Tonight’s Midnight Madness event in Bennington will be a good place to beat the heat after the sun goes down. Stop by many downtown and outlying (likely air conditioned) shops between 7 p.m. and midnight for some great deals.

Above all, be careful out there. Try to stay cool.

~Michelle Karas