The triple-digit temperatures seen throughout California this week have put the state’s power grid at risk, prompting the California Independent System Operator to call for a Flex Alert in an effort to avoid outages. The National Weather Service has issued an Excessive Heat Warning through Friday, as temperatures are expected to hit 108 degrees in Turlock and up to 112 degrees in other parts of the Valley.
The California Independent System Operator called for the Flex Alert on Monday, urging consumers not to use major appliances from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. through Wednesday. They also asked people to set air conditioners to 78 degrees or higher and turn off unnecessary lights to ease strain on the power grid.
The ISO is a nonprofit, public benefit corporation that operates the high voltage grid in California and in parts of eight western states. The ISO does not own transmission lines or power plants, but does tell power plants when to generate electricity, how much to generate and where the electricity will be delivered. The ISO is regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The record temperatures have already caused many to lose power due to overheated transformers, with the Turlock Irrigation District reporting five scattered outages starting on Sunday, including one that saw 487 customers in Patterson lose power and another in Modesto that affected 32.
Elsewhere in the area: nearly 2,800 homes were without power in Manteca Sunday night, many for as long as six hours — and Pacific Gas and Electric reported 26 outages in its Fresno Division, affecting 337 customers, and 23 outages in the Yosemite Division, affecting 90 customers.
According to PG&E’s meteorology staff, Sunday’s outage volume will make it the most impactful single heat event day since the great heat storm of July 2006.
Wednesday and Thursday will be the hottest days this week, with Turlock forecast to reach 106 and 108 degrees, respectively, three to four degrees above the record highs recorded in 2001. Valley residents won’t feel relief from the heat until Saturday, when temperatures are expected to drop to below the century mark.
As temperatures continue to rise this week, Stanislaus County health officials are advising residents to be prepared for the hot weather and to take precautions to prevent any heat illness.
“People should recognize the symptoms of any heat-related illness and take precautions to stay safe and healthy. Senior citizens and small children are particularly vulnerable,” said Dr. Julie Vaishampayan, county public health officer. “Our hope is to get the word out there now that a good working home air conditioner for your loved ones could save their lives this summer. When temperatures reach 100 degrees or more, an electric fan may not be sufficient to cool a person adequately. People without air conditioning should consider finding a location for ‘heat respite’ some portion of the day”.
Heat waves can be especially dangerous for seniors, infants and other vulnerable people. These individuals have a much harder time regulating their body temperatures and adjusting to extreme changes in heat.
People should follow these steps to stay safe and protect themselves during hot weather:
· Stay indoors and out of the sun during the day.
· Use air conditioner and keep it well maintained.
· If indoor temperature remains above 90 degrees, seek shelter in an air-conditioned building.
· Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
· Avoid alcoholic or caffeinated drinks.
· Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing.
· Take frequent cool showers or baths.
· Check in on neighbors, relatives and friends, particularly the elderly who may be isolated.
· Bring pets indoors where the air conditioning is on.
During times of extreme heat, if you notice the following symptoms, seek medical help quickly:
· Red, hot, dry skin
· High body temperature of 105 degrees
· Dizziness, nausea, confusion
· Profuse sweating and muscle cramping
· Strange behavior or unconsciousness
· Rapid pulse or throbbing headache
For heat-related information, Stanislaus County has numerous resources available for the public at www.StanEmergency.com.