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Heat wave brings burn bans, high heat indexes

Katherine Ranzenberger
505-5439/@YDKatherine

The good news is the heat wave baking York County and much of the Northeast should break by the weekend.

Golfer Luke Hoffnagle and caddy Eli Brooks walk through a sprinkler on the the third hole fairway to cool off during the York County Junior Golf Association 2016 George Barton Match Play, Monday, July 25, 2016. John A. Pavoncello photo

The bad news ... it's not even hump day, meaning there's still a few sweltering days ahead.

"Highs this week will be in the mid-90s," said Paul Head, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in State College, adding the heat index will make it feel "well above 100 degrees."

The high temperatures also mean a higher risk of fires.

At least five townships across York County have issued burn bans for the areas that are in effect until conditions improve. Lower Windsor Township, Conewago Township, York Township, North Codorus Township and Springfield Township all have prohibited lighting or feeding an open fire.

Thunderstorms are in the forecast, though, and that may help cool down the middle of the week, according to Paul Walker, senior meteorologist with AccuWeather in State College.

"Tuesday should be a little less humid," he said. "It's still going to feel hot. Make sure that you pay attention to any bans put in place. If you do have a fire, make sure it's within the pit's ring and you have a bucket of water near in case something happens."

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The humidity may turn up again Wednesday before another band of showers rolls through on Friday, Walker said.

Temperatures are expected to stay in the mid-90s through the end of the week, Head said. The weekend should be relatively cooler, with highs in the mid- to upper 80s. Overnight lows should reach the mid-70s.

Working outside: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration wants to make anyone who has to work outside in this heat stays safe.

The U.S. Department of Labor released an app to monitor the heat index of the work site to calculate the risk level to the workers. The app is available for iPhone and Android in both English and Spanish and is free to download.

"In 2015, OSHA received more than 200 reports of heat-related worker hospitalizations and at least eight deaths associated with heat exposure," according to a news release. "The agency is currently investigating several worker fatalities reported in 2016."

Employers should make sure to schedule multiple breaks for water and allow people to rest in the shade, the agency said.

Electricity: Power usage typically goes up during heat waves, according to First Energy officials, because more people are using fans and air conditioners.

"Air conditioners are working harder and longer hours right now," said Scott Surgeoner, spokesman for First Energy. "There will be a corresponding increase in monthly bills."

Golfer Luke Hoffnagle walks through a sprinkler on the the third hole fairway to cool off during the York County Junior Golf Association 2016 George Barton Match Play, Monday, July 25, 2016. John A. Pavoncello photo

Despite the heat, though, Surgeoner said he doesn't expect power outages.

The pink drink of summer

In order to save energy and some money, Surgeoner recommended closing your blinds when you leave for the day so heat from the sun doesn't radiate into your home through windows. If you have to use a stove to cook, do so after the sun goes down, he said. Use a microwave to cook if you can because it doesn't heat up the house like an oven or a stove top would.

Beat the heat: Extreme heat like this can cause multiple health issues, including heat exhaustion, heat stroke and dehydration, the American Red Cross said in a news release. Wearing loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in light colors can help alleviate some of the heat absorbed by your body.

Officials advise residents not to leave pets or children in cars during the day, even for a minute. Temperatures can reach 120 degrees very quickly inside a car, causing health issues and even death for those inside. More than 20 children have died from heat stroke so far this year after being left in a car, according to noheatstroke.org.

"A car can heat up 19 degrees in 10 minutes. And cracking a window doesn’t help,” said Pam Gay, York County coroner and spokeswoman for Safe Kids York County, in a news release. “Heatstroke can happen anytime, anywhere. We don’t want to see this happen to any family. That’s why Safe Kids is asking everyone to help protect kids from this very preventable tragedy by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute.”

The American Red Cross Central Pennsylvania Chapter also tweeted advice for staying cool. Postponing outdoor games and activities until the evening hours can make them a little more bearable.

If people don't have air conditioning, they can go to libraries, schools, malls and movie theaters during the warmest part of the day, which is usually from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.

For more tips on how to stay cool, visit redcross.org.

— Reach Katherine Ranzenberger at kranzenberger@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @YDKatherine.