– It’s uncomfortable and burns when you breathe in, says Cody Newsom.
He is one of nearly 100 people who have fled extreme heat to a cooling center that the state of Idaho has opened. Libraries, churches and congress halls have been converted into living rooms with liquids, food and, above all, air conditioning.
up to 40 degrees – in the shade
Outside, in the state capital Boise, it’s three-digit degrees outside in Fahrenheit for the fourth day in a row. Calculated in Celsius, the temperature varies between 38 and 40 degrees – in the shade. The elderly have been advised to stay indoors, and rescue services are in full swing due to the high risk of wildfires, with many in the state already raging.
Many cooling centers have been opened in Boise. It was needed, says Miranda Jay, a volunteer at one of them. Many times they have been forced to call emergency numbers.
– Their bodies lose the ability to cool them. They become disoriented, very confused and extremely dehydrated. One woman vomited uncontrollably, and of course she needed medical help. But we are here to try to prevent such situations.
Cody Newsom recognizes the description. As a homeless person, he has not been able to escape the heat and his charred hands and shoulders testify far in the sun.
– Normally you could be out for an hour or two, but now it burns out in five or ten minutes.
The heat in Idaho is expected to last at least a week, which is unparalleled, according to US National Weather Service meteorologist Jay Breidenbach.
– Every year we have occasional days where the temperature rises to 38 degrees. But it is exceptional both because of its size, where the heat affected the entire northwestern United States and western Canada, and because of its magnitude, where we measured 47 degrees of heat.
How has this affected the area around Boise?
It is extreme and above all it has a great impact on people. But we also see how demand for electricity has exploded when people want to cool their homes, and this puts a strain on our electricity system. Even here in authorization, we will now start using diesel generators instead of electricity to save electricity, Breidenbach says.
He also says that Idaho will have to get used to more such heat waves in the future.
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