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Environment & Energy

Pittsburgh Prepares for Hot Days Ahead

It’s hot out — really hot — and several organizations in Pittsburgh are taking action to prevent fatalities as temperatures are expected to reach into the 90s this week.

Meals on Wheels workers have been advised to not only deliver the meals, but also to make sure the seniors they serve are holding up well in the heat.

“We will be in contact with all of them (clients) a couple of times this week by either telephone or visit to ensure that everything is stable, that the house is cool, that they are taking care of themselves well, that they’re in no difficulty,” said Allegheny County Area Agency on Aging Administrator Mildred Morrison.

The social service agency will be focusing on the elderly who live alone.

She said workers are making sure the air conditioning is on, not just available, and if they don’t have air conditioning, that the shades are down during the day and a fan is on. Morrison also wants to know what seniors are eating.

“Is the senior taking in liquids, and that’s both drinking water but it’s also eating soft food like ice cream or more like applesauce or yogurt because that also has a fluid component, but you also want some nutritional value,” said Morrison, who also added scrambled eggs to the list.

Morrison said if someone has swollen ankles or is gasping for air, the workers will call for medical assistance.

On the other end of the spectrum, parents are being advised not to leave their children in the car, not even for a minute with the window cracked.

“The temperature within the car can rise almost 20 degrees in 10 minutes, even with the windows cracked, so it’s really important to not leave children in the car for any length of time or at all,” said West Penn Emergency Physician Melani Cheers. “The car can just become so hot so quickly, so it’s always best to remember to take children with you.”

The same precautions should be taken for pets.

Duquesne Light crews are helping battle the heat by carrying additional transformers so they can replace failed equipment faster. Transformers often blow under heavy loads associated with heavy air conditioner use.

“We don’t usually see problems until the third or fourth day of a heat wave because it takes a little while for the equipment to fail because of overloading situations, and most of that are going to be the transformers that you see outside your house that are up on the pole,” said Duquesne Light spokesman Joseph Vallarian.

Duquesne Light suggests setting air conditioners at 78 degrees, using fans, turning off all appliances that are not essential — lights included — and delaying the use of clothes dryers, dishwashers and electric stoves until after 7 p.m.

Cheers advised people to drink two to four glasses of water every couple of hours a day, but stay away from sugary drinks and alcohol.

“It’s really important to be careful when it’s so hot like this," she said. "The most important thing people can do is to try to stay really hydrated, to drink a lot of water and also to replace all the salt and minerals that you’re losing through your sweat when it’s so hot on days like today.”