ST. LOUIS–(KMOX)–With a long stretch of hundred-degree-plus days in the forecast, health and public safety officials are bracing for what could be a deadly week ahead.
“As the days stretch on, as this heat is going to, we will start seeing an increase in illnesses among seniors and homebound people,” said Health Director Pam Walker.
Last summer, which was milder, eight people died from the heat.
Walker says she worries most about the “un-airconditioned.”
“Some of the deaths we’ve seen in the past year were people who had an air conditioning unit, but didn’t turn it on, or had a unit on, but it was blowing warm air, not cool air, or just didn’t have one at all.” Walker said.
St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson is also sounding the warning about the likelihood of fires in the days ahead.
“There’s a lot of barbecuing going on, illegal fireworks, or they’re going into one room of the house where the air conditioner is and not paying attention to the kitchen,” Jenkerson said.
Jenkerson described the tinderbox conditions of hot attics and hot roofing tiles, which often give a fire a “head start” before firefighters can arrive. The chief is also concerned about people tossing cigarettes in dry grass, after witnessing a grass fire earlier this week.
“It was definitely from a cigarette. It was alongside a fence line and had some cars backed into it,” Jenkerson said, “Cigarettes and dry grass don’t go together.” The chief called a pumper truck and the fire was put out before the cars ignited.
The lawn outside fire department headquarters was also turning brown. A sprinkler hose was set up Friday to try to revive the grass.
Meanwhile, fire department cooling sprinklers were being set up around Busch stadium to help prevent fans from getting sick during the long hot home stand this weekend — with day games schedule for Saturday and Sunday. Paramedics will also be standing on site during the games.