Stifling Heat Wave Torments Millions From the Midwest to Northeast

"This is as hot as New York City gets," said Con Edison representative.

July 23, 2011, 11:47 AM

July 23, 2011 — -- The mercury hit 104 degrees Friday in New York City, the highest temperature the city has seen in 35 years.

"This is as hot as New York City gets," said John Miksad, who works in the Electric Operations division for Con Edison, the city's power company.

The National Weather Service is predicting 103 degrees this afternoon in what some might call the Baked Apple, and no New Yorkers are sweating out the heat wave more than utility crews, who are working around the clock to maintain the power grid. The city broke its all-time record for power demand at 1 p.m. Friday, topping a mark set Aug. 2, 2006.

The bright lights of Times Square were turned off Friday to conserve energy.

New York was not the only place battling the heat. Newark, New Jersey, hit an all-time record at 108 degrees.

In the Chicago area, the heat may be responsible for at least six deaths, including an 18-year-old boy who was riding his bike and running and may not have drunk enough water.

An 18-year-old landscaper died Thursday night in Louisville, Ky., with a body temperature of 110 degrees, the coroner said, according to The Associated Press.

Airports near Washington and Baltimore hit 105. Philadelphia hit 103 degrees, as did Boston. The Emergency Room at the Framingham Hospital outside Boston is seeing twice as many patients.

"Death from heat is greater than death from tornadoes or hurricanes or from the cold," said Dr. David Morris, who works at Framingham Union Hospital.

Doctors warn that in these conditions, the body, even at rest, can lose a quart of fluid an hour. They say to wear light clothing, don't go outside unless you have to and drink plenty of water.

It's also important to be careful of metal objects outside. A manhole cover in Manhattan was measured at 139 degrees. The slide in an empty jungle gym was 120 degrees.

In Baltimore, Dale Brown, who is homeless, said he buys a $3.50 day pass to the commuter rail system to stay cool -- and sober.

"I'm surprised more homeless people don't do that," he said, according to The Associated Press. "That kills a lot of the day. One more day successful without drinking."

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