Concern for others rises with mercury

Posted June 2, 2011 9:41 a.m. EDT
Updated June 2, 2011 7:18 p.m. EDT

— The North Carolina Division of Air Quality issued a Code Orange health notice for the Triangle and Fayetteville Thursday, meaning that the air quality is likely to be unhealthy for sensitive groups of people.

"People who are sensitive to air pollution should avoid moderate exertion outdoors in the afternoon," according to the N.C. Division of Air Quality. "Sensitive groups include children and the elderly who are active outside, people who work or exercise outdoors, and those with asthma, bronchitis, emphysema and other respiratory ailments."

Some relief could come Friday as temperatures dip slightly into the high 80s under partly cloudy skies.

"We’ll get a little bit of a break tomorrow, (but) it’s not going to be anything fantastic," said WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner.

The 90-degree weather returns this weekend with a high of 92 on Saturday and 95 on Sunday.

When the mercury rises, so do concerns for the elderly.

Kay Fish, a volunteer with Meals on Wheels in Raleigh, delivers food daily and checks on her clients to make sure they are staying cool and safe.

"We do ask about the air conditioning. Is it cool enough? Do you have enough to drink? What's your nourishment of the day, and what are you eating other than just our lunch?" she said.

Not all seniors have what they need to avoid heat stroke during the hot weather, so the North Carolina program Operation Fan/Heat Relief steps in to help.

Orange County gave out 97 fans and seven air-conditioning units in the past two weeks, and Durham County has distributed 150 fans and 12 AC units.

"It's miserable in these apartments when it's 90 degrees outside," said AC recipient Jean Scott, who lives in Chapel Hill. "It's just like an oven in here."

WakeMed said it has treated 16 people with heat-related illness or injuries from May 24 to June 1.

Local utilities reported average power usage from customers but advised customers to start conserving energy to prevent any problems meeting demand and to help save on utility bills.

Wake County announced its White Flag Network service Wednesday, in which local businesses hang white flags to indicate that they are offering heat relief to the homeless, allowing them to be inside out of the hot sun when the heat index rises above 101 degrees.