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


At Penguin Air, Plumbing & Electrical in Phoenix, the brutal heat demands that everyone get their act together.

With the Southwest in the midst of a severe heat wave, and with temperatures in Phoenix expected to hit 118 degrees Fahrenheit over the weekend, the locally owned company is preparing for the worst.

“We know that when it’s 119 degrees, that means it’s going to be 120 [degrees] plus in 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 down in this crazy, extreme heat.»

Phoenix is ​​just one city bracing for scorching temperatures this week and heading into the weekend. Record heat is expected across the region, with many places in the Southwest forecast to see temperatures well above 110F Saturday and Sunday.

Volunteer Bill Alkema, right, from Phoenix, hands out cold water at the emergency heat relief station at The Salvation Army’s Phoenix Citadel Corps Thursday in Phoenix.Rebecca Noble/Getty Images

About 84 million people in the United States are under heat alerts Thursday, which stretch from the West Coast through the southern Plains and as far south as Florida. In places expected to be hit hardest by extreme temperatures, local officials are scrambling to prepare residents for the onslaught of heat.

Dr. Kai Singbartl, medical director of the Mayo Clinic hospital 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. possible and seek help if you experience symptoms of heat-related illness, such as weakness, fatigue, dizziness, or nausea.

“Any type of heat-related illness is a medical emergency,” Singbartl said. “This can very quickly turn into a life-threatening emergency. and they should seek help immediately, call 9-1-1 and seek professional help.”

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

«Please do not underestimate the excessively high temperatures ahead this weekend,» officials with the Phoenix office of the National Weather Service. he tweeted on thursday.

Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., said Phoenix is ​​working on ways to mitigate the extreme heat, but added that the federal government «needs to step up.»

“I have introduced bills to add extreme heat to FEMA’s list of emergencies and increase shading on urban heat islands.” he tweeted on thursday.

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

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

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

In Las Cruces, New Mexico, cooling facilities have opened at community centers, public libraries and other locations along busy bus routes, said David DuBois, a New Mexico state climatologist and director of the New Mexico Climate Center. .

“Some people don’t have air conditioning, so we focus on getting people out of the heat,” he said, adding that he is most concerned about older people, disadvantaged communities and people who have to work outdoors. .

Along with local health departments, DuBois said his top priorities now are educating people in New Mexico about the risks of heat in the coming days and where they can seek shelter from the scorching temperatures.

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

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

“They’re working in that heat all day, so we made sure to provide them with ice, water, and electrolyte packs,” he said. «We try to constantly remind them to drink fluids, because it’s hot and heat exhaustion or dehydration is creeping up on them.»

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