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First day of summer brings triple-digit temps to Utah

SALT LAKE CITY — An excessive heat warning was issued Monday for parts of southern and eastern Utah, including Moab, Green River, Lake Powell and St. George.

Those areas are expected to have daytime temperatures of 105 degrees or higher throughout the week, reaching 111 degrees Monday at Lake Powell. Such extreme conditions pose risks to populations across the state, but especially children and the elderly.

"We don't get those warnings a lot, but they're kind of common sense warnings, mainly (for the) elderly," said KSL meteorologist Grant Weyman.

St. George was forecasted to have high daily temperatures above 100 degrees each day this week, with Monday's conditions approaching the June 20 daily record of 110 degrees, Weyman said.

Temperatures won't be quite as extreme along the Wasatch Front, but daily highs are expected to reach the mid- to high 90s each day until Thursday. Parts of Utah County could also climb to 100 degrees or higher this week.

Salt Lake City's hottest temperature on record is 107 degrees, set in 2002, Weyman said. Utah's capital city averages six days a year with triple-digit temperatures.

A high-pressure system hovering across the West has caused temperatures to soar in other places. Phoenix reached a record high of 118 degrees Sunday, which broke the previous June 19 record of 115 degrees set in 1968, according to the National Weather Service.

Four people died in Arizona over the weekend due to heat-related injuries sustained while recreating outside, according to local officials. High temperatures in Phoenix were forecasted to remain above 110 degrees all week.

It's enough to warrant some concern, even if people don't plan on going outside, according to Utah health officials.

"Being a good neighbor is critical this time of year," said Sean Bailey, spokesman for Salt Lake County Aging and Adult Services. "If you know you have elderly neighbors who may not have a support structure of family close by, we encourage neighbors to check in and make sure they're doing OK.

"The heat affects seniors particularly," he said.

About 400 Americans die each year due to excessive heat in the summer. In recent years, that's more than the fatalities from all other weather events in the U.S., including tornadoes, floods and hurricanes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Last year, Salt Lake County collected more than 350 fans that were donated for elderly residents and other homebound families without air conditioning. The county has also designated some 45 "cool zones" across the valley, including its 19 senior centers, libraries, recreation centers and other public buildings where people can go to cool off.

Senior residents who need help living without air conditioning can contact Aging and Adult Services at 385-468-3200. More information on the Cool Zone program can be found online at slco.org/aging-adult-services/cool-zone.

Other agencies are helping residents combat the extreme temperatures. In situations where power is lost and heating or air conditioning aren't available, for example, the American Red Cross can provide shelters for displaced individuals. That includes coordinating with recreation centers, LDS Church buildings and other facilities.

"We're on standby if needed to provide that kind of thing," said Rich Woodruff, spokesman for the American Red Cross' Utah region.

Health care facilities are making seasonal changes to schedules because of broiling temperatures outside. Ridgeview Garden Assisted Living in St. George is one of them.

"When it's really hot, we just try and stay in and do some refreshing things inside," said the center's administrator, Debbie Presland. The facility also has backup generators to keep air conditioners, medical equipment and other devices going when the power goes out, she said.

"We go over lots of different emergency situations, and that's one," Presland said.

Health officials are trying to educate residents on avoiding heat-related illnesses ranging from dehydration to heat stroke and death. They're all preventable, Woodruff said.

"Drink continuously, even if you don't feel thirsty. Because when you feel thirsty, you're not in a good place," he said.

Woodruff added that those recreating outside should avoid alcohol or caffeine, which may exacerbate dehydration. Being active outside during the cooler early morning hours, wearing light-colored clothes with good ventilation, and using a hat to avoid direct sunlight are also good ideas, he said.

Pet owners should also be vigilant for signs of overheating and fatigue in their animals, according to Woodruff. For dogs, these may include heavy panting, difficulty breathing, red or gray coloring in the tongue and mucus membranes, vomiting and seizures.

Pets should be kept in well-ventilated, shaded environments and provided with plenty of water.

"It's pretty obvious not to put them and leave them in a car," Woodruff said. "It's really dangerous."

Several safety applications developed by the Red Cross are available for download on mobile devices, including an emergency first aid app and a pet first aid app.

Email: mjacobsen@deseretnews.com

Twitter: MorganEJacobsen