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It's time to beat the heat

Much of Southern Oregon seemed to breathe a sigh of relief as the temperature dropped in a cool period mid-last week. But the National Weather Service confirmed that from Thursday through Sunday, temperatures rose by about 24 degrees — and wouldn’t stop there. The Weather Service is forecasting highs for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in Medford at 97, 103 and 101 degrees, respectively.

If those highs bear out on Tuesday and Wednesday, they would be record-breaking numbers for those dates. With those forecasts on the way, here are three ways to protect yourself:

1. Test your air conditioner before you need it

If you’re one to crank up the AC right as the thermostat is approaching 100 degrees, you run the risk of going without AC right when you need it most. Matt Stone, president of Stone Heating and Air, said it’s almost a perennial tradition that on the hottest days of the year, calls for service skyrocket.

During the long cold months when the air conditioner sits dormant, ants often find their way in and short out the contactor, Stone said. Issues with the motor and capacitors are also common.

“Any combination of those three items is really what is causing most people’s headaches with systems,” Stone said. “Even newer systems can have those three issues happen as well.”

Most of the calls HVAC companies receive once summer arrives are from people requesting service that day, Stone said. With a limited number of skilled workers, resources become overwhelmed, and companies have to turn jobs down, he said.

If you find yourself in that position, however, Stone recommended asking the companies if they have any temporary AC units available for rent or to borrow. These units, while not as effective as your home or window unit, can still help ease the discomfort. You might also be able to snag one at Lowe’s, Home Depot or Walmart while they last.

Stone also recommended considering other factors besides price when considering hiring help to fix a malfunctioning AC unit.

“There are lots of ways for companies to lure business,” he said. “(Customers) want to make sure to talk to somebody who will let them know what’s happening with their system.”

2. Plan ahead for manual labor

If you work outside during the hot days, planning ahead can be everything. Oregon’s Department of Consumer and Business Services in a release last week encouraged workers to perform their most labor-intensive work during the coolest parts of the day — morning or evening.

Penny Wolf-McCormick, health enforcement manager for Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration, said that “it’s especially important for employers to put appropriate measures in place to guard against the potential impacts of on-the-job heat stress.”

From 2012 to 2018, a total of 42 people received benefits through Oregon’s workers’ compensation system for heat-related illnesses, the release said.

OSHA urges employers to create safety plans to protect workers from heat-related illness. A sample heat illness prevention plan can be found at http://osha.oregon.gov/OSHAPubs/pubform/heat-sample-program.pdf

Using the buddy system, taking a water break every 15-20 minutes (even better if it’s under shade) and wearing light, breathable clothing are other ways to stay safe from heat stroke in the coming days.

3. Before you leave it, check your car

When heat rises outside your vehicle, the temperature inside can climb further even faster. Meteorologist Shad Keen with the National Weather Service urged drivers to be extra vigilant to avoid leaving pets or children behind in locked vehicles.

“The margin for error is much lower as we hit these hot days,” he said.

The subject made headlines in recent weeks after two people faced charges in separate incidents of leaving animals in hot cars, according to Medford police.

A Butte Falls man pleaded guilty to animal neglect charges after leaving his dog in a sealed vehicle for over 24 hours. The dog, a 4-year-old miniature pinscher, died.

The dog involved in the other case did not die, according to Medford police, but the owner still faces animal abuse or neglect charges.

On an 85-degree day, a car’s interior can reach 102 degrees in 10 minutes and 120 degrees in 30 minutes, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which said cracked windows won’t prevent a car from overheating. Dogs with dark coats, that are overweight, elderly or have thick coats are most at-risk of getting overheated.

Anyone who spots a pet in a vehicle is asked to call dispatchers at 541-770-4783.

As a bonus tip: when the heat rises in the air, pets are as susceptible to being burned walking on hot pavement as humans would be. Exercise Fido on grass and limit overall activity, recommended the Humane Society of the United States.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Kaylee Tornay at ktornay@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4497. Follow her on Twitter @ka_tornay.

Close-up Hot temperature fahrenheit or celsius.