Saturday, October 16, 2021

How highs the temperature, Mama?

| June 25, 2021 7:37 PM

Residents of Shoshone County — and really everywhere in the Pacific Northwest — take heed. Don’t let the upcoming heat get the better of you … in any way.

The impending heat wave has several people charging up their air conditioners and doing everything they can to heat-proof their homes, as temperatures are expected to climb as high as 107 degrees early next week.

Protecting yourself as well as your neighbors and communities is at the forefront of many local officials’ concerns as they hope human health and safety, as well as common sense, are taken very seriously over the coming days.

With the exceptionally dry spring season giving way to our already hotter-than-normal summer months, the Shoshone Board of County Commissioners hopes people don’t take any unnecessary risks with potential fire hazards.

“Don’t be a guberif,” commissioner John Hansen said with a laugh.

Guberif is firebug spelled backward, and all good humor aside, Hansen’s sentiments are completely on the money.

Due to the high number of dried out, dead and/or dying trees, and low humidity, fire conditions throughout the panhandle are at dangerous levels.

In Shoshone County there is no specific “burn ban” in effect at this time, but just over the county lines, the Kootenai Fire Chiefs have enacted a ban on all burning beginning on June 25.

This includes any already permitted burning, with the exception of recreational fires in an approved fire pit.

The rules for Kootenai County are fairly simple and could easily be extended to Shoshone County. These rules include that outdoor recreational fires must not have a total fuel area greater than 3 feet in diameter and no more than 2 feet in height. They can only be used for pleasure, religious, ceremonial, cooking, warmth, or similar purposes. They should not be conducted within 25 feet of a structure or combustible material. Conditions that could cause a fire to spread within 25 feet of a structure shall be eliminated prior to ignition. Recreational fires in approved portable outdoor fireplaces shall not be conducted within 15 feet of a structure or combustible material.

Fires must be constantly attended to until the fire is extinguished.

“Please exercise caution if you have any fires,” said Commissioner Jay Huber. “Remember what Smokey Bear says, ‘only you can prevent forest fires.’ If you’re going to light fireworks, please be respectful and responsible with them.”

Shoshone County Fire District No. 2 Chief Mark Aamodt explains that with high temperatures such as the ones forecasted, the risk of heat exhaustion and dehydration skyrockets — especially with Shoshone County's senior population.

"It can sneak up on you," Aamodt said. "People out recreating are usually aware enough to take in fluids and everything else, whereas some of our senior citizens don't realize it and maybe aren't even taking in enough water/electrolytes to begin with."

Aamodt also pointed out that extreme heat can react with certain medications that seniors may be using and create a dangerous situation where an individual can get tired very quickly.

On top of the high temperatures, Aamodt is concerned that they are predicted to hang around for multiple days in a row, which increases the likelihood that local EMS will have to respond to a related call.

"Usually we get a day or two or three in a row, maybe (of high temperatures), but the extended time doesn't give things a chance to cool down at night."

Some tips to follow to stay safe in this high heat is to stay hydrated (this includes getting enough electrolytes), limit prolonged sunlight exposure, and avoid direct contact with objects that can heat up to dangerous temperature when exposed to sunlight.