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Extreme heat causing dangerous, unhealthy conditions across state

Posted at 5:25 PM, Jul 17, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — The extreme heat over the last few days continues to bear down on the southern part of Utah. Temperatures soared above 105 degrees in areas like St. George, with others expected to see continued temperatures as high as 111 degrees.

In Snow Canyon State Park, crews were called to the area over the weekend after a hiker was found suffering from a heat-related illness.

"With the heat over the last weekend, there's been a slight uptick, not a dramatic uptick, but there has been a slight uptick in emergency room visits due to heat related illnesses," said Dr. Patrick Carroll, Chief Medical Officer of St. George Regional Hospital.

Carroll adds there are several ways people can prevent both heat exhaustion and heat stroke. He says it is important to stay out of the heat as much as possible, and for those outside, shade is your friend. The doctor says it is also important to stay well hydrated.

"What we're seeing is most individuals that are coming to the hospital for heat-related illnesses are, are not those native to, to southwest Utah, they're visitors," said Dr. Carroll.

The heat hasn't stopped people coming from near and far to visit Zion National Park, which is making sure anyone who travels there comes prepared.

"Probably the single most important thing that you can do is bring plenty of water and drink plenty of water," said Jonathan Shafer, a public affairs specialist at Zion. "Afternoons are typically the hottest, so be mindful of that before you get out on park trails and see if you can structure your visit around, maybe hiking more in the morning during the cooler part of the day."

Shafer says they are equipped and prepared to respond if any visitors come down with a heat-related illness.

"In a typical year, we'll respond to over 100 incidents and those can have to do with everything from heat-related illness to injuries in other parts of the park," he said.

The heatwave also caused power outages in the southern part of the state over the weekend.

"We had one outage last night, started about 10:15 p.m. and we had one of our transformers burn up," said Colin Jack, COO of Dixie Power.

The outage left 80 customers without power until repairs were made in about 90 minutes, Jack claimed. He says no matter the time of year, his company works quickly to try and get the power back on.

"We're trying to protect all the vulnerable population," he said.

During typical day, Jack explained that Dixie Power has six to eight crews working.  But with the extreme heat, he says those crews come in a couple of hours early so they start their work and finish before it gets really hot outside.

The power company makes sure crews are trained on heat safety and the impact of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.  Crews out in the field leave with ice water and Gatorade packets so they can stay hydrated in the heat.