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Heat wave rolls into Tri-State this week

Hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk. Hotter than a firecracker on the Fourth of July.

No matter how you say it, Tri-State residents were in agreement Monday - it was hot outside, very hot.

National Weather Service officials said the region can expect more of the same today.

Meteorologist Ken Batty said temperatures for both days were forecasted to reach the mid to upper 90s. With humidity factored in, the temperatures Monday felt more like 105 degrees. A heat advisory was issued for Monday afternoon and early evening. Batty said residents can take comfort in the fact that the heat wave won't last long.

"We're not predicting a prolonged heat wave," Batty said. "We have a cold front expected to come through late Tuesday evening and this should bring temperatures to a more normal level, into the mid 80s."

The heat wave will likely set a new record for peak demand for Buckeye Power, Inc., which supplies power to Buckeye Rural Electric Cooperative. BREC Spokesman Steve Oden said the old record of 1,424 megawatts was set in December of last year.

"We came close to breaking it last week," Oden said. "Our calculations show we will probably set a new record sometime this evening, early."

Oden said this was not a situation where power is in short supply, it is caused when BREC must purchase additional power to meet the increased demand of its customers and, therefore, must pay a premium price to purchase that power.

For some Buckeye Power customers who have prearranged to be part of an electricity saving program, this means power to their residential water heaters will be interrupted for a short period of time today and possible tomorrow. The power interruption will not affect all Buckeye Power customers, only those who have agreed to be part of the program.

"We have around 3,000 customers with these switches on their water heaters," Oden said. "This is something they agreed to in exchange for a small break on their utility bill. I don't know how many of these customers are in Lawrence County but I would imagine that since there are some new houses in Lawrence County, and these switches are mainly in newer houses, that Lawrence County has its share of them."

The heaters have a radio-controlled switch that allows Buckeye Power to turn off electricity to that appliance for a short period of time, which saves the company money. Oden said most of the time the interruption is only for a few minutes and customers do not even notice it.

American Electric Power Spokeswoman Suzanne Priore said that utility company also anticipated higher than normal usage but did not anticipate any problems meeting that demand.

How to beat the heat

Tips on how to be safe in the heat from FEMA and from the Lawrence County Health Department:

Stay indoors as much as possible and limit exposure to the sun. "If you avoid going out, stay indoors," said Lawrence County Health Department nurse Mary Holtzapfel, R.N.

Consider spending the warmest part of the day in public buildings such as libraries, schools, movie theaters, shopping malls and other community facilities. 4Eat well-balanced, light, and regular meals. Avoid using salt tablets.

Drink plenty of water. "It is important to stay hydrated and it's a good idea to get hydrated before you do outside and then continue to replenish that," Holtzapfel said. Persons who have epilepsy or heart, kidney, or liver disease; are on fluid-restricted diets; or have a problem with fluid retention should consult a doctor before increasing liquid intake.

Limit intake of alcoholic beverages.

Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible.

Protect face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.

Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning.

Never leave pets alone in closed vehicles. "Make sure to check on pets that are out of doors and make sure they have a cool shady place and plenty of water to drink," Holtzapfel said.

Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day.