Southeast Minnesota heat wave puts pressure on people and power companies

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(ABC 6 News) – The Minnesota Department of Health says there are certain people who are more at risk for the heat and they’ve seen a spike in people going to the hospital for heat-related illnesses.

Local power grids have also experienced pressure from the heat as companies in the region have issued peak alerts over the last few days. Thursday, Austin Utilities issued a warning for their customers to reduce their power as much as possible until 8:00 that night.

It’s been an increasing occurrence over the last four years and the majority of those being hospitalized for heat-related illnesses are men who are 65 or older. Olmsted County has had an average of 9.6 people per 100,000 going to the hospital due to prolonged heat exposure.

On the second day of summer, people are easily reminded of the time of year it is with another 90 degree day. Rochesterfest’s crowd on Thursday afternoon was of moderate size and the heat didn’t keep too many away from the festivities they took in.

“We’re just finding shade wherever we can but the food is good here,” said James Favre of Rochester. “We’re enjoying the music, and it not all that overcrowded. It’s easy to walk around and pick what you want to enjoy.”

If the heat does get to anyone attending Rochesterfest, there is plenty of help to be found at Soldier’s Field.

“They just have to get ahold of one of the people in the bright orange vests or to the information booth,” Executive Director of Rochester Fest Steve Rose said. “We’re in contact with the police department and they’ll get an ambulance here if we need to do that or whatever we need to do.”

It may be the simplest thing to do but health experts remind people that the best thing to do in the heat is to stay hydrated.

“I can’t stress enough hydration,” said Dr. Steven Maher of Mayo Clinic. “They should continually be hydrating, drink lots of water, plenty of it. And once they get into the second or third bottle of water they can start to add in something like an electrolyte.”

As Rochesterfest continues on, people like Favre, who is in the most vulnerable demographic for prolonged heat exposure, will be sure to keep himself in check with plenty to drink.

“Yeah, I’ll drink a lot of water or Scooter’s sample coffee. That was good,” said Favre.