Temperatures well over 100 degrees with no break expected until next week is putting a strain on people in Fresno and the Valley. And there are only a couple ways to battle the extreme heat: seeking out air conditioning and drinking lots of water.
Just ask the owners of those ubiquitous food trucks. Several vendors were at the Taco Tuesday Fresno Streatz event at Inyo and Van Ness from 7 a.m. to about 3 p.m.
Aaronn Hansen owns The Smokin Burrito.
He doesn’t use the air conditioning unit on the truck’s roof because his generator doesn’t produce enough power to run the truck and the air conditioner.
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“Today has been one of the roughest days,” he said as the temperature hit 107 degrees in the shade. “There are four or five days you remember, this is one of them.”
He said he beats the heat by drinking water while working. Staying hydrated is critical to avoiding heat stress.
No heat-related deaths have been reported in the Fresno, Kings, Madera and Tulare counties, but a grim reality of summer California is that heat of this magnitude – Fresno hit a high of 110 as of 5 p.m. Tuesday, tying a record high that was set in 1920 – can kill. (Another record dating back to June 1925 was tied overnight when the low dropped only to 80 degrees.)
In 2006, a 12-day heat wave in the Fresno area contributed to 34 deaths in the central San Joaquin Valley, and 140 deaths occurred statewide during the long heat wave that year.
Those figures are surely too low because an estimated 655 others died in California as a result of heat-related problems, according to a study by the state Department of Public Health.
Local ambulances are dealing with heat calls in the current heat wave.
The number of ambulance calls for heat stress or heat-related issues such as fainting or breathing problems has risen with the temperatures, said Dan Lynch, Fresno County Office of Emergency Services director.
In the three-day period ending Monday, there were 32 calls in the Fresno, Madera, Kings and Tulare counties area, he said. By contrast, a year ago during the same period when there was no a heat wave, there were only four such calls, he said.
And when it’s very hot, “there’s an uptick” in calls for psychiatric assistance, he said. Sometimes those calls come from police responded to an incident involving someone with behavioral health issues.
“That’s expected,” he said. “They get more anxious or agitated because of the heat.”
There are four or five days you remember, this is one of them.
Aaronn Hansen, The Smokin Burrito
In Visalia, the Thursday night farmers market in downtown Visalia is being canceled, and the Clovis Chamber of Commerce rescheduled a mixer at Blackbeard’s to next week because of the heat. And in Hanford, officials are canceling the Thursday Night Market Place.
The California Independent System Operator, which oversees operation of the state’s electricity grid, issued a statewide Flex Alert calling for voluntary electricity conservation from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday.
“Consumers are urged to conserve electricity, especially during the late afternoon when air conditioners typically are at peak use,” the ISO said.
Consumers should turn off all unnecessary lights, use major appliances before 2 p.m. and after 9 p.m., and set air conditioners to 78 degrees or higher.
Consumers are urged to conserve electricity especially during the late afternoon when air conditioners typically are at peak use.
California Independent System Operator
Pacific Gas and Electric said setting the thermostat 5 degrees higher saves about 10 percent on cooling costs.
Temperatures above 100 degrees is a two-edged sword for Cal Fire.
On one hand, fighting a wildfire in that heat has the potential for firefighters to suffer heat stress, but when it’s over 100 there are fewer fires reported.
“When we peak over 100 activity goes down,” said Cal Fire Capt. Jeremiah Wittwer. “I think it’s because people are inside more. It’s when it’s in the ’90s we see more activity.”
Back at Taco Tuesday, Henry Wickman, owner of Where’s The Food, which specializes in Asian-Mex fusion options, checked the temperature inside his truck in the mid-afternoon – 105 degrees.
“We go outside when we can. I hope for a breeze or something,” he said.
Juan Enriquez, owner of Latin Urban Bistro, said his truck has no air conditioner and only roof hatches.
“It’s to let the hotter air out,” he said.
Fresno is being blistered by a long streak of triple-digit temperatures. Compare the daily temperatures this year (including what’s forecast) with last year at this time.
Source: National Weather Service