Heat grips area as storms roll through

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Temperatures approached or exceeded 100 degrees across the area before some areas got storms.

The sun high in the sky is helping turn up the heat to a scorching 90 plus degrees and with no breeze it feels even hotter.

"Right now it feels like it's 105 out here," said Willie Thorp, a volunteer with the Helping Hand Mission. He's out in the heat with other volunteers, working with no AC of their own there to hand out fans to those without any cooling systems.

"The faster we got them in, the faster they went out," said Thorp.

But with temperatures hovering higher than 95 degrees the state health department advises against using any fans. Some experts equate it to practically cooking yourself.

Paramedics with Wake County EMS say calls for help are rising right along with the mercury.

"We've responded to people who were out for a jog, came in and came crawling up to the door to let us in because they didn't have the strength to stand up anymore, "said Jeff Hammerstein with Wake County EMS.

North Carolina health officials are also lending out helpful tips to keep you safe in the heat.

State Health Director Robin Gary Cummings said those steps include drinking plenty of water or juice to avoid dehydration and, if possible, limiting time outdoors, especially in the afternoon when the sun and temperatures are at their peak. With many summer camps still in session, children should be closely monitored for signs of heat stress, including:

  • Muscle cramps

  • Fatigue, weakness

  • Dizziness, fainting

  • Headache

  • Nausea or vomiting

Older North Carolinians also are very susceptible to complications from extreme heat. The N.C. Division of Aging and Adult Services is encouraging frequent checks on older family members and neighbors to be sure they are protected from the heat. Additional safety measures for people of all ages include:

  • Be careful about exercising or doing a lot of activities when it is hot. Stay out of the sun, take frequent breaks, drink water or juice often, even before you are thirsty, and watch for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

  • If you live in a home without fans or air conditioning, open windows to allow air flow, and keep shades, blinds or curtains drawn in the hottest part of the day or when the windows are in direct sunlight. Try to spend at least part of the day in an air conditioned place like a shopping mall, a store, the library, a friend's house, or the movies. Cool showers can help, too. Do not use a fan when the air temperature is above 95 degrees - it will blow hot air, which can add to heat stress.

  • Never leave a child, disabled or older person, or a pet in an unattended car, even with the windows down. A closed vehicle can heat up to dangerous levels in as little as ten minutes.

  • Know if your medications impede heat loss (i.e. kidney or diabetes medication, mental health medications). If you take medicine that affects your body's ability to cool itself, talk with your doctor.

According to data collected from hospital emergency departments across the state, there were 95 heat-related illness emergency department visits last week, when temperatures were much lower than they are predicted for this week. The National Weather Service is forecasting heat indices of up to 103 degrees Thursday in the central region of the state and indices as high 105 degrees in the coastal region.

"The majority of people seeking emergency care are between 25 and 64 years old," Cummings said. "These are folks who are out exercising, doing yard work or recreational activities, and those who have jobs that keep them outdoors. It is critical that everyone take proper precautions to avoid illness when the temperatures are high."

The heat is causing not just physical tolls but also costly tolls with people cranking up their air conditioners.

Kevin Holley with Raleigh Heating and Air says his shop has been flooded with phone calls for repairs. He says his guys are working overtime in this heat.

"They're working 10 to 14 hour days, men on call, working sun up to sun down and then some," said Holley.

He suggests changing your air filters once a month and if you notice your air conditioner isn't working, turn it off and keep it off. He says keeping it on while you wait for help with only further the damage.

But Holley says the best way to prevent AC trouble is yearly maintenance before the heat sets in. It's too late for that now so he and his crew are staying busy. And as a courtesy from one organization trying to keep people cool to another, he's planning to take a look at the broken air conditioner unit over at Helping Hand Mission.

A representative from Duke Energy told ABC11 that they are seeing a spike in power usage. So far, it hasn't been too much for their systems to handle, but crews are on standby in case the increased usage leads to any power outages.

Meanwhile, here are some tips they recommend to lower your bill now.

"The first one is to bump up your thermostat a couple degrees. This really makes a difference, and when you're heading out for the day, bump it up even a few degrees more. Then later, you can turn it back down," said Duke Energy's Amy Strecker. "Customers can also be sure to use fans, even portable fans or ceiling fans, this can even lower the temp in a room by three to four degrees. The next thing you can do is to close blinds or drapes to prevent the sun's rays from heating your home. Finally, use your microwave to cook tonight. That's a great option to cook and not heat up your home using the stove or the oven."

Duke Energy offers home improvement rebates to help eligible customers make their homes more efficient and comfortable. Here are links to the programs:

They also offer energy assessments to eligible homeowners to help them learn how their home uses energy and how to save on their power bills. Please review these programs, by service area availability:

And there are voluntary programs that offer payment for reducing their energy use on days when demand for electricity reaches peak levels, such as these programs, by service area:

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