Extreme heat is expected to blanket the southern and western parts of Wisconsin for the next several days. Officials in those areas are planning ways to help residents avoid serious health issues.
In 1995, a heat wave in the Midwest was blamed for directly causing 82 deaths in Wisconsin. Many of those who died were elderly. Keith Butler is La Crosse County Emergency Management Coordinator. He says the whole community has to watch out for those who may live alone or be without air conditioning. "Just be mindful and check on them. Be good neighbors I think that 's going to be a big help this week," he says.
Butler says there is one daytime cooling center open for all of La Crosse County. Officials are working to extend hours through the evening. In Dane County officials are prepared to open the Expo Center if necessary. County Executive Joe Parisi says senior centers, shopping malls, libraries and movie theaters are helping keep people cool. "Right now we're monitoring the need. right now the need for cooling facilities is being met throughout the city and county but we're monitoring that situation," he says.
The heat presents a challenge for community celebrations. In La Crosse, Keith Butler says Riverfest is going on through Saturday and cities are celebrating the Fourth of July. "When you get 10-15-20-thousand people gathered in one park to watch fireworks it's going to get hot and stay hot. We have to be concerned about that: how do we take care of that many people?"
The National Weather Service has issued an excessive heat warning for parts of southern and western Wisconsin through Friday because of hot, humid conditions.