Central Valley keeps its cool despite scorcher

07/11/2012 11:35 PM

07/12/2012 11:23 AM

It's hot ... real hot. Then again, it's July in the Central Valley and the triple-digits likely come as no surprise to those who live in the region.

That may explain why there have been few emergency incidents related to the heat, officials say. Fire departments are ready to respond, cooling centers are open and medical facilities are prepared, but little activity is being reported.

Whether it's cutting back on outdoor activity or drinking lots of water, Merced Fire Chief Mike McLaughlin said most residents know what to do when temperatures soar pass the century mark -- as they did on Wednesday, at 107 degrees.

McLaughlin also said the Valley's dry heat is more bearable than sizzling temperatures coupled with high humidity found in other parts of the country. "But it's still pretty hot here right now," he said Wednesday afternoon.

While there haven't been many reports of heat-related problems, McLaughlin warned residents that in these conditions, trouble isn't far away. "We need to remind people not to leave kids and pets in their cars, where temperatures inside can reach 140 degrees."

Jim Andersen of the National Weather Service office in Hanford said Merced had a bit of a break Wednesday, because some high clouds moved in and kept the temperature from going higher.

Andersen said the same thing could happen today, with a high of 103 degrees predicted. He expects to see temperatures start to drop by Friday, but only slightly, with lows in the upper 90s through the weekend.

For Tom Truax and his crew, more of the same hot weather means business as usual at Ace Air Conditioning & Heating of Merced.

But Truax, whose business serves Merced and Stanislaus counties, said the latest temperature spike hasn't overwhelmed his operation, because some toasty weather in April and earlier this month prompted people to get their air-conditioning units serviced.

A little preventative maintenance goes a long way when 100-plus-degree heat hits, he said.

People need to make sure the filters are clean and that items aren't piled up around air conditioners, which can impede their operation, Truax said. He also recommended getting the condenser coils cleaned once a year and ensuring that air ducts are properly sealed.

Otherwise, he said, all that cool air won't be getting to where it needs to go.

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