Saturday, July 23, 2011

Surviving Extreme Heat and Power Outages

We’re to the part of the summer when the heat seems to be one of the big news stories. Conveniently, everyone seems to forget that it gets hot EVERY summer, so it makes good news.

Along with heat comes power outages, primarily from increased air conditioner use. Several cities are experiencing localized and/or regional brownouts and blackouts this week including Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Detroit, and hundreds of smaller cities and towns.

The media loves this time of year. They can interview hot people, talk about where power is out and when it will come back on, and talk about all the people dying and being hospitalized from the heat.

As our population and electrical infrastructure ages, this is going to be a bigger and bigger issue. Throw in a local or regional disaster, and it’s an issue that almost everyone needs to have a plan for.

I want to start with heat related deaths and say that for the most part, they are a creation of the media. It actually makes me mad when I hear talk about people dying from the heat. It’s not only inaccurate, but it plants the idea in people’s heads that they might die simply because it’s hot out. In the majority of cases where people die from the heat in urban areas, the deaths are completely unnecessary and avoidable. It’s much more accurate to say that these people died from a lack of knowledge, rather than from the heat and a power outage.

Do people die when it gets hot out? Yes, but ask anyone who has deployed to the sandbox, done manual labor throughout the summer, or the millions of people who live in Africa and the Middle East without air conditioning and they’ll tell you that hot weather alone won’t kill you. Read the entire article.

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