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Torontonians sweat out a power outage

Andrea Stockton, staff writer

July 6, 2010 — An extreme heat alert continues in Toronto and after a power outage Monday, residents are hoping to stay cool. Click on the video to the left for tips on conserving power in the heat.

Hot and humid in Toronto this week
Hot and humid in Toronto this week

Hot, humid and hazy. It's the triple H that will have Torontonians sweating out the first full week of July.

Temperatures climbed to 34 degrees Monday and when you factor in the humidex it was feeling closer to 40. With day time highs like that residents were doing anything they could to stay cool. But when a fire at a west-end transformer station broke out and helped to cut power to nearly 250,000 customers, it made it near impossible to get some relief from the heat.

Even a couple of subway lines were shut down due to the outage. We caught up with a passenger who describes what it was like. “It was really bad, I mean really hot. Some people were just sweating standing, it was just jam packed.”

Tanya Bruckmueller is with Toronto Hydro. She says with the heat expected to continue and air conditioners in full demand, power outages may be a concern in the days ahead.

“Much like any piece of equipment such as a car if you were to run it 24/7 under extreme temperatures without the ability to cool down or provide any relief sometimes equipment will fail or overheat.” Bruckmueller adds that instead of compromising your comfort “consider conserving or shifting use of other equipment at peak times.”

Finding shade under a large tree
Finding shade under a large tree

Smog and humidex advisories as well as the extreme heat alert issued for the city all remain in place.

Under a heat alert warning, the public is encouraged to call or visit family, friends and neighbours, particularly isolated adults and seniors who are at a greater risk of suffering from heat-related illnesses. Other high risk groups include infants and young children, people on certain medications and those who are marginally housed or homeless.

The city is opening special cooling centres that people can use in addition to shopping malls and community centres. The alert will be in effect until further notice. The public is advised to 'beat the heat' by taking these precautions:

  • Drink lots of water and natural fruit juices.
  • Go to air conditioned places, including shopping malls or community centres.
  • Stay out of the sun.
  • Reduce physical outdoor activity especially between 11am and 4pm.
  • Never leave the elderly, children or pets unattended in a car.

The city is still on track to meet heat wave status by Wednesday. A heatwave is defined as three or more consecutive days of temperatures of 32 degrees or higher.

It won't be until the end of the week that Torontonians can expect some relief. A cold front is likely to sweep through Friday bringing temperatures back down to more seasonal values.

With files from Jill Colton.

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