- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 8, 2001

Despite a regional heat advisory and temperatures in the mid-90s, public safety officials said there were few, if any, reports of heat-related illnesses yesterday. But forecasters say the worst of the lingering heat wave may yet come.
The National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for today and an excessive heat watch for tomorrow. They say temperatures both days could swell to between 95 degrees and 100 degrees, with a heat index between 100 degrees and 105 degrees. The heat index measures how hot it feels when humidity rates are added to high temperatures.
A record high of 101 degrees was set on this day in 1930.
On Friday, a cold front is expected to approach, bringing afternoon showers and thunderstorms, and by Saturday, high temperatures should drop to the mid-80s.
But yesterday's temperatures, which reached 94 degrees at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, may have been most severely felt on the Inner Loop of the Capital Beltway at St. Barnabas Road in Prince George's County, where a hazardous materials investigation halted morning traffic for more than four hours.
Kay Graham, deputy director of the county's Office of Emergency Preparedness, said she called the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission and the Deer Park bottled water company, both of which had volunteered their aid in an emergency.
WSSC delivered water in jugs, and a Deer Park truck brought about 50 cases of bottled water to the scene of the accident. Mrs. Graham said she and several other volunteers went from car to car and handed water to motorists until about 1 p.m., when traffic finally began moving.
"Most of the people had air conditioning, but some didn't," Mrs. Graham said.
As of late yesterday afternoon, she said her department had no reports of heat-related injuries in the county. Christina Sadar, an emergency management specialist in Fairfax County, said they had no reports of heat-related illnesses either.
In the District, the emergency heat plan was in force for a second straight day. Among other precautions, operating hours for the city's pools were extended until 9 p.m.
Terri Nyman, director of development at the Metropolitan Police Boys and Girls Clubs, said she hadn't seen many people escaping the weather in the lobby of the Richard England Center in Northeast, one of the city's dozen "cooling centers" in operation yesterday.
"We basically just have an air-conditioned building," she said. People usually trickle in, mostly elderly residents who live in the neighborhood, she said. "They all know that we're a community center, and they can just walk in."
At Carver Terrace in Northeast, which has a summer camp for kids whose parents are in welfare-to-work programs, a fire hydrant was opened. Camp administrators said the "street shower" was crucial because Carver Terrace has limited air conditioning, and its 302 children are too many to take to a public pool without paying for extra lifeguards.
"This is our pool," said Director Veronica Hartsfield. "When they turn the water on, it makes it a lot easier because it calms the kids down." The D.C. Housing Authority opens the hydrants in 14 city locations during hot weather.
Greater Southeast Project KEEN was one of the agencies designated to distribute donated electric fans to the elderly. Social worker Rosemary Butler said the two fans the group distributed Monday depleted their supply, but they haven't had any unfulfilled requests. On hot days, the agency, which delivers meals to the elderly, keeps a special watch.
D.C. police and 7-Eleven started running their "Operation Water Works" program. The convenience store chain donated bottled water and coolers to the police, who carry it around in squad cars on days under a heat advisory. Police spokesman R. Bruce O'Neal said not every cruiser carries water, but there will be stocked cruisers in every district.
"All people have to do is flag down a car, and if that car doesn't have any they can radio for one that does," Mr. O'Neal said.
At 2 p.m. yesterday, Potomac Electric Power Co. activated its "Kilowatchers Club" program. Customers on the program have their central air conditioning cycled on and off periodically to help cut demand for electricity. About 162,000 customers in the District and Maryland take part in the club, in exchange for a reduction on their bills.
Extreme heat causes more deaths in the United States than hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes combined, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 300 people die from heat-related illnesses every year.

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