Heat makes people ill, adds demand for electricity

July 19, 2006|by PEPPER BALLARD


Several people were treated Monday for heat-related illnesses at Washington County Hospital and demand was up for electricity in the past few days as the heat wave continued to cook the area Tuesday.

Hospital spokeswoman Marina Shannon said Tuesday afternoon, "We had several heat-related illnesses yesterday, but none today."

According to the National Weather Service, the high temperature Tuesday in Hagerstown was 92 degrees. A cold front that brought with it rain Tuesday evening was expected to bring down temperatures. Highs today are expected to be in the upper 80s, according to the Web site.

The heat index, a combination of temperature and humidity, was recorded at 104 degrees at 2:37 p.m. Tuesday, according to local weather observer Greg Keefer's Web site at


Shannon said the potential for heat-related illnesses definitely increases when the heat index is up, but "we don't see it in waves."

Hospital staff adapts to any demands high temperatures place on them, Shannon said.

Allen Staggers, spokesman for Allegheny Energy, said there has been an increased demand in the past couple of days for electricity, but no records have been broken.

The record was set July 26, 2005, when 8,824 megawatts an hour were used in the area. On that day, conditions were similar to Tuesday, he said.

On Monday, 8,600 megawatts an hour were used, he said.

"When we experience temperatures in excess of 90 degrees, the demand for electricity just shoots up tremendously, especially with high humidity," Staggers said.

Mary Baykan, Washington County Free Library director, said that since June, the library has seen days when 1,200 to 1,300 people come in a day. In the past couple of days, the library has been bustling, she said.

"We provide resources that people can use out of the sun and out of the heat," she said.

She said people are "checking out tons of DVDs" and video tapes.

Baykan said she's seen a lot of families and young children come to the library in the past couple of days.

"People are looking for a place that's cool," she said.

REACH Caregivers, which has a Cold Weather Shelter during the winter, has not opened a shelter or extended its hours in response to the heat, but those seeking a reprieve may go to the office at 140 W. Franklin St., Suite 300, from 10 a.m. to noon, said Kevin Collins, REACH Caregivers coordinator of services.

"Anyone who wants to get out of the heat at that time, get into the air conditioning or get something to drink can come here," he said.

The office is open from 10 a.m. to noon for its day resource program. During that time, staffers offer services to those who need help with eviction notices, utility cutoff notices and those who need help finding jobs, he said.

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