Heat wave blasts Oakland County

Of The Oakland Press

An “excessive heat warning” will remain in effect until 10 p.m. Thursday as the heat index rises to make it feel like 105 degrees outside.

“We could break a record,” said Amos Dodson, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in White Lake Township.

Thursday’s actual temperature will stay in the upper 90s, but the record for the Detroit area is 97 degrees. The heat index — the combination of hot temperatures and high humidity — will make it feel hotter than 100 degrees, though.

Hot weather health risks

The stretch of hot weather has area hospitals preparing for an increase in heat-related emergencies.

“We are starting to see that progression,” said Dr. Tressa Gardner, emergency room physician at POH Regional Medical Center in Pontiac.

Gardner said the ER has seen a slow increase in heat-related traumas since the stretch of hot weather began and is preparing the staff for more incidents on Thursday, which is expected to be the hottest day so far this summer.

“The worst case scenario is heat stroke,” Gardner said on Wednesday. “We’ve had one case of that and a lot of heat exhaustion.”

Signs of heat exhaustion include headache, nausea and fatigue. If not addressed, it can progress to heat stroke.

“With heat stroke, you’ll have mental status changes and organ damage,” Gardner said. “And with heat stroke, you stop sweating.”

The body starts shutting down its organs in an effort to preserve the brain and heart, she said.

People who must be outside, like those with outdoor jobs, should take breaks in cool areas, avoid strenuous physical activity and take extra precautions to stay hydrated.

“Not just with regular water, but maybe some replacement-type sports drinks so they don’t drop their sodium too much,” Gardner said.

The very young and very old are more sensitive to the heat, but so far, many of the heat-related cases that have come into Gardner’s ER have been young adults.

“Probably because they’re a little bit more active outside,” she said.

It’s a good reminder that heat exhaustion and heat stroke can strike anyone.

“Get out of the sun and in the shade,” she recommended.

Heating, cooling businesses busy

Henry Abrams, owner of H.A. Sun Heating and Cooling, remembers working into the midnight hours in 1988, holding flashlights for his technicians while they fixed air conditioners.

“That’s what this heat now reminds me of,” said Abrams, who has operated his Bloomfield Hills-based company for 30 years. “We had 100-degree days back then.”

Abrams and his staff have been working hard to keep up with customers’ calls this summer.

“We’re trying to keep up as best as we can,” he said.

Technicians have been out this week working until 2 a.m. some nights. On Wednesday, all of his 30 workers were out on the road.

The main complaint, he said, is broken air conditioners.

Units are overworked, he said, from running 22 to 24 hours a day.

“The lows at night are in the 70s with no relief because the house isn’t getting a chance to cool down at night,” he said.

“It’s a great time for us but there are always people not getting taken care of,” he said.

Abrams said crews are doing their best to get to the many calls coming in.

Abrams did offer advice if your air conditioner isn’t working well.

He said cottonwood tree debris was heavy earlier this year.

The fluffy seeds can “put a blanket around the condenser” so he suggested people clear that debris away from the outdoor condenser.

“Also make sure filters are clean and check to see the thermometer is set correctly,” he said.

“A lot of people are taking care of the problems themselves and saving a $100 service call.”

Weekend forecast

The chance for a shower or thunderstorm will be 20 percent after 8 p.m. Thursday. On Friday, there’s a 40 percent chance of some wet weather.

Friday’s temperatures will be just slightly cooler thanks to a small drop in humidity. Temperatures will again reach the upper 90s, but the heat index will fall, making it feel like the mid-90s.

“It’ll still be warm this weekend, but not as hot,” Dodson said. “High temperatures will be in the low 90s with the heat index in the mid-90s.”

Contact staff writer Karen Workman at 248-745-4643 or karen@oakpress.com. You can also find her on Facebook and @KarenWorkman on Twitter.

Contact Oakland Press staff writer Carol Hopkins at 248-745-4645 or carol.hopkins@oakpress.com. Follow her on Twitter @waterfordreport.

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