Experts: Follow guidelines to stay safe, protect pets and constrain energy costs during heat wave

With triple-digit temperatures expected this week, experts say residents should heed guidelines to avoid heat illness, protect pets and constrain costs for air conditioning.

Meanwhile, TVA officials said they anticipate local electrical systems being able to handle the increased power demand and avoid rolling blackouts that affected TVA customers during extremely cold weather in late December.

Forecasts call for high temperatures of 100 degrees Thursday and 103 degrees Friday after 93 degrees Wednesday. The feels-like temperature Thursday is expected to be 111 degrees followed by 115 degrees on Friday and 111 degrees again Saturday.

Temperatures will begin to moderate Sunday, with a high of 94 degrees. The heat index will still be over 100 degrees until Tuesday. It’ll be slightly cooler by July Fourth, when the high is predicted to be 89.

An excessive heat watch has been issued for Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Meteorologist Jennifer Saari said the excessive heat watch may change and extend to Friday.

Normal summer temperatures are expected to return after this weekend as a ridge of high pressure moves eastward, according to Saari.

“Once we get into early next week, we’ll have a pattern change. It looks like a low pressure system will move through the Great Lakes and kind of weaken this ridge of high pressure and scoot it eastward,” Saari said.

Scott Fiedler, a Tennessee Valley Authority spokesman, said the agency has been preparing for hot weather creating high demand in its service area that includes 10 million people.

“We are ready for Mother Nature’s summer heat,” he said.

The agency used its experience from last summer’s hot weather to order replacement parts to have on hand if needed and completed “corrective and preventive maintenance on key equipment,” he said.

Dr. Wes Stubblefield, the area’s district medical officer for the Alabama Department of Public Health, said local residents should take precautions to avoid heat exhaustion. He said everybody tolerates heat in a different way, and anyone could have problems in hot weather.

“People who are very young or very old, or have underlying conditions, they are particularly susceptible to heat-related illnesses,” he said.

Stubblefield recommended that people stay hydrated. He said people planning on celebrating the holiday weekend should be aware of the times of the day when it is the hottest and try to avoid being outside at those times. He added that people should remember alcohol and caffeinated drinks can cause dehydration.

Pets are more susceptible to heat than people may think. Pets can suffer from heat stroke, according to the American Red Cross. Certain breeds of dogs are highly susceptible, particularly those with short snouts, such as pugs and bulldogs. Excessive exercise in hot weather, lack of appropriate shelter outdoors and leaving a dog in a hot car may precipitate an episode of heat stroke.

Cats can also be at risk.

If you have a cat that has heart problems, an older cat, or a cat that is compromised in its respiratory capability their risk for heat exhaustion is higher, so watch them closely.

It’s important to get the pet out of direct heat right away and check for signs of shock, which include seizures, a body temperature of 104 F or higher, stupor, increased heart rate, or excessive panting. Placing water-soaked towels on the pet’s feet, head, neck, and abdomen can bring down its temperature.

It’s likely you will need to fill your pets’ water bowls more frequently in warm weather than during other times of the year. Be sure to provide constant access to fresh water, even for young puppies who may be learning to house train.




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