California Urges Power Conservation During Heat Wave

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A young boy cools off in shallow water at Crissy Fields July 18, 2006 in San Francisco, California.  (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images))

California’s power grid operators called for cutbacks in electricity usage as parts of the U.S. Southwest braced Tuesday for another day of scorching heat.

With triple-digit temperatures expected throughout the region, the California Independent System Operator Corp. urged people to ease off blasting the air conditioner or using the washer or other appliances from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday and again on Wednesday. Those are the times of peak power usage.

The so-called Flex Alerts are needed to reduce the risk of rotating power outages, Cal-ISO said.

Scattered outages during the day and evening Monday left several thousands of people sweltering even though overall state electrical demand never exceeded available power.

Officials urged homeowners to keep the thermostat at 78 degrees (26 Celsius) or higher.


The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health also urged people to stay out of the sun.

“When temperatures are high, even a few hours of exertion may cause severe dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Others who are frail or have chronic health conditions may develop serious health problems leading to death if they are exposed to high temperatures over several days,” said Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser, the county’s interim health officer.

Children, the elderly and pets shouldn’t be left in homes without air conditioning or in cars even with open windows because temperatures can quickly soar to life-threatening levels, he said.

Highs around the Southwest approached 120 degrees (49 Celsius) Monday, with Phoenix recording a steamy 115 degrees (46 Celsius), breaking the previous record for the day, the National Weather Service reported.

“It can be suffocating,” said Don Frey, an employee of the moving company Budget Movers, told KTVK-TV.

An important tool of his trade was his water jug, he said.

Asked about Tuesday’s forecast of a high of 117 degrees (47 Celsius), Frey said: “Those are the days that you really wish you listened to mom and dad and stayed in school.”

Forecasters said southern Arizona will swelter through temperatures from 112 to 119 degrees through Wednesday.

In Texas, forecasts called for a high of 108 degrees along the border from Del Rio to Laredo and up to 101 in Central Texas and the Big Bend. However, temperatures were only expected to top out in the upper 90s over much of the state.

Parts of Utah were also issued an excessive heat warning with temperatures this week expected to approach 109 degrees. The weather service said the warning for Utah’s Dixie and Lake Powell regions will be in effect Tuesday through Thursday.

With some of the highest temperatures over the next few days expected in Phoenix, officials cautioned people to stay hydrated and take advantage of cooler indoor buildings.

Maricopa County public health officials say 155 people died in the Phoenix area last year from heat-caused illnesses such heat stroke.