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Health alerts issued as temperatures hit 90s again

| Thursday, July 8, 2010

Hot weather continues to burn up the Alle-Kiski Valley.

An Air Quality Action Day has been declared for today — the fifth consecutive day.

Also, the Allegheny County Health Department has issued a health alert due to the sweltering heat.

The department is warning of high risks of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Linda Jaskolka, Alle-Kiski Medical Center spokeswoman, said the hospital in Harrison has been seeing more patients since the heat has turned up.

"We've been seeing an extra 20 to 30 patients a day, since Monday," she said.

"About one-fourth of those patients are coming in with heat-related problems. Today we had about 15 respiratory cases due to the poor air quality."

The county is continuing to extend hours at its senior centers. The Highlands Senior Center in Tarentum is open until 7 p.m.

The Central Electric Cooperative issued a energy conservation alert yesterday. Chris O'Donnell, a representative with the cooperative, said another alert lkely would be issued for today.

When a conservation alert is issued, the cooperative asks users to turn off nonessential electronics, such as: pool pumps, humidifiers and house lights.

Allegheny Power — the area's largest power supplier — has yet to issue a conservation order, according to Doug Colafella, a company spokesman.

"Our system is built to cover the coldest and the hottest days of the year," Colafella said.

Energy loss isn't the only concern for local residents. AAA East Central said it has seen a 35 percent spike in service calls during the hot weather.

AAA recommends testing all batteries over two years old to make sure they can deal with extreme hot weather.

The area is in line for a break from the heat this weekend.

Forecasts are calling for temperatures to fall back in to the 80s.

Additional Information:

Car maintenance in the summer heat

• Check the level and condition of the motor oil. Check your owner's manual for specific recommendations.

• Check brake fluid level and condition. It's vital to maintain the proper level and that the fluid is free of contaminants to ensure reliable hot-weather braking.

• Check the performance of the air-conditioning system. If needed, have it serviced by a qualified technician.

• Inspect antifreeze/coolant level and condition, making certain the proper 50/50 mixture of water and coolant is present.

• If your car overheats, never attempt to remove the radiator cap until the engine has cooled. Coolant in the radiator is under pressure and can flash into steam, causing severe burns.

• Other under-the-hood components such as belts and hoses also are stressed by extreme heat and should be regularly inspected. Be sure the vehicle engine is turned off before inspecting these items.

Source: AAA

Additional Information:

How to minimize heat-related illness

• Stay indoors, preferably in an air-conditioned environment.

• Drink plenty of fluids. At least eight cups of water per day.

• Wear lightweight, light-colored and loose fitting clothing. A wide brimmed hat provides shade and helps keep the head cool.

• Wear sunscreen; it can prevent sunburn, which prevents your body from cooling itself.

• Avoid strenuous physical activity, particularly during the hotter part of the day

• Check on the elderly and the infirm who do not have air conditioning and are less able to take care of themselves.

Source: Allegheny County Health Department

Additional Information:

Keeping your pet cool and safe

• Make sure that your pet has plenty of clean water and is able to escape the heat.

• Never leave your pet in a parked car on a warm day.

• Never allow your pet to ride in the back of a pickup. A sudden turn or stop could throw your animal out of the truck.

• Don't let your dog hang its head out of a moving car. Rocks or tree limbs may hit your pet, or your pet may lose its balance and fall out.

Source: Orphans of the Storm

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