Heat, rain, fire -- and record-setting energy use

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Times Staff Writers

Day 4 of the year’s longest heat wave brought new energy-use records Friday, thunderstorms, lightning-sparked fires and forecasts of no relief through the holiday weekend.

At 2 p.m. Friday, Southern California Edison, which serves about 4.8 million customers, broke its peak energy demand record of 22,889 megawatts set July 25, 2006. Energy use peaked in the afternoon at 23,303 megawatts.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power came close to setting a record for power consumption for the second day in a row. Friday’s demand for electricity peaked at 6,107 megawatts, the second-largest daily usage ever, exceeding Thursday’s high of 6,039 megawatts. The DWP record is 6,165 megawatts, hit July 24, 2006.


The state energy grid also suffered, hitting its highest usage this summer with 48,617 megawatts.

Scattered power outages were reported throughout the region but were generally short.

Energy use is expected to decrease over the weekend as people leave town, most office buildings are closed and temperatures cool in the northern part of the state.

The heat wasn’t the only weather-related news.

Severe thunderstorms in the mountain and desert areas prompted the National Weather Service to issue flash-flood warnings in areas affected by runoff from storm cells.

In the Inland Empire, U.S. Forest Service officials fanned out across the tinder-dry San Bernardino National Forest watching for spot fires as lightning strikes swept across the area Friday.

By the late afternoon there were four confirmed lightning fires, said U.S. Forest Service spokesman John Miller, but each was confined to a single tree.

They struck near Idyllwild, north of Big Bear, in Lytle Creek and just north of the Heart Bar campgrounds on California 38. In many instances, the lightning was accompanied by heavy rain that washed debris and large rocks onto the roads.


“We are on an extremely high level of alert because there’s so much lightning spread through the forest,” Miller said. “We’re spreading out in all directions. . . . Our biggest fear is dry lightning.”

After the storm cells pass, Miller said, officials are likely to fly over the area to scout for fires that might not be visible to forest service personnel on the ground.

The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning Friday for the mountains of Ventura and Los Angeles counties -- including the Santa Monica range, despite its proximity to the ocean -- the San Fernando, San Gabriel and Santa Clarita valleys and the coastal areas of Orange County.

Relief from the heat won’t come before the end of the holiday weekend. Temperatures are expected to continue in the triple digits throughout much of Southern California today. Downtown Los Angeles is expected to reach 91; Pasadena, 107; Coachella Valley, 110; Anaheim, 95; and Burbank and Riverside, 108.

Southern California can expect a bit of a break from the heat Tuesday, when temperatures are expected to drop a few degrees, forecasters said.



The Associated Press contributed to this report.



Basic tips for extreme hot weather:

* Dress for the heat. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing. Light colors will reflect away some of the sun’s energy. It is also a good idea to wear a hat or use an umbrella.

* Drink water. Carry water or juice and drink continuously, even if not thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which dry the body. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.

* Eat small meals and eat more often. Avoid high-protein foods, which increase metabolic heat.

* Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity. If strenuous activity is unavoidable, do it during the coolest part of the day, which is usually in the morning between 4 and 7 a.m.

* Stay indoors when possible. If air conditioning is not available, stay on the lowest floor out of the sunshine. Electric fans do not cool; they simply circulate the air.

* Be a good neighbor. During heat waves, check in on elderly residents and those who do not have air conditioning.


Sources: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Red Cross


On the road

Here are some tips for driving in extreme heat:

* Before trips, check basic car fluids including oil, transmission fluid and coolant.

* If possible, plan trips for the early morning and evening, when it’s cooler.

* Keep an eye on the vehicle’s lights and gauges.

* Do not attempt to remove the radiator cap. The hot pressurized coolant will spray out with great force.

* Bring moist towelettes and extra bottles of water.

Source: Road & Travel


Illnesses to watch for in hot weather

California experienced a record-setting heat wave last summer. More than 140 people -- most of them elderly -- died of heat-related causes. Here are some hot weather health tips involving four common heat-related illnesses:


Warning signs

* An extremely high body temperature (above 103 degrees Fahrenheit)

* Red, hot, dry skin (no sweating)

* Rapid, strong pulse

* Throbbing headache

* Dizziness

* Nausea

* Confusion

* Loss of consciousness

What to do

* Call for emergency assistance.

* Get the victim to a shady area.

* Cool the victim rapidly using whatever methods are available.

* Monitor body temperature, and continue cooling efforts until the body temperature drops to 101 to 102 F.

* If emergency medical personnel are delayed, call a hospital emergency room for further instructions.

* Do not give the victim fluids to drink.

* Get medical assistance as soon as possible.

* Sometimes a victim’s muscles will begin to twitch uncontrollably as a result of heatstroke. If this happens, keep the victim from injuring himself, but do not place any object in the mouth and do not give fluids. If there is vomiting, make sure the airway remains open by turning the victim on his or her side.

Heat exhaustion

Warning signs

* Heavy sweating

* Paleness

* Muscle cramps

* Tiredness

* Weakness

* Dizziness

* Headache

* Nausea or vomiting

* Fainting

* The skin may be cool and moist.

* The victim’s pulse rate will be fast and weak, and breathing will be fast and shallow.

What to do

Cooling measures that may be effective include the following:

* Cool, nonalcoholic beverages

* Rest

* Cool shower, bath or sponge bath

* An air-conditioned environment

* Lightweight clothing

Heat cramps

Warning signs

* Muscle pains or spasms -- usually in the abdomen, arms or legs -- that may occur in association with strenuous activity.


* If the victim has heart problems or is on a low-sodium diet, get medical attention for heat cramps.

What to do

* Stop all activity and sit quietly in a cool place.

* Drink clear juice or a sports beverage.

* Do not return to strenuous activity for a few hours after the cramps subside because further exertion may lead to heat exhaustion or heatstroke.

* Seek medical attention for heat cramps if they do not subside in one hour.

Severe sunburn

Warning signs

* Red, painful, abnormally warm skin

* Fluid-filled blisters

* Severe pain

What to do

* Consult a doctor if sunburn, regardless of severity, affects an infant younger than 1 or if the above symptoms are present.

* Apply cold compresses or immerse the sunburned area in cool water.

* Apply moisturizing lotion to affected areas. Do not use salve, butter or ointment.

* Do not break blisters.

Sources: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Red Cross