First day of summer sees heat index of 104 degrees

By: Kate Tillotson
By: Kate Tillotson

June 21 was the first day of summer, and the heat index was already up to 104 degrees.

So how do you plan to beat the heat?

Wednesday's temperatures were a reminder that summer in the South is something to respect.

From firefighters to homeowners to children wanting to play outside, summer means a whole new set of rules for fun in the sun.

Summer is here and it's bringing the heat, so the race to stay cool is on.

With the heat index steady at 100 degrees, emergency management director and fire chief Howard Willis says, "You could get to a point where you're dehydrated, you may walk out and pass out all of a sudden."

It's why Augusta's firefighters are being told to stay indoors, unless of course there's an emergency.

The heat also has homeowners juicing up the AC.

Diane and Donny Gray are having their coils cleaned.

"Make sure that we're up and running correctly," Donny says.

"95 plus. Anything over 95 is too hot for me," says Diane.

Chief Willis is a big believer in resting through these summer months, drinking plenty of water and avoiding areas that tend to draw extreme heat.

Believe it or not, the asphalt on Broad Street makes the downtown strip even hotter.

So staying indoors - in the air conditioning - is recommended.

"You can drive from here out, say, to Hephzibah and McBean, and you can see the temperature drop in those areas out in the country," Chief Willis says.

But whether you're in or outside city limits, it is hot.

And Augustans are left bracing for the dog days of summer.

Augusta has ten heat shelters, or cooling centers, for folks needing relief from the sun. Here is a complete list of their locations:

Augusta's Heat Shelters

Carrie J. Mays Center

Bernie Ward Center

Blythe Center

Dyess Park

Henry H. Brigham Center
May Park

McBean Center

Sand Hills Center

W.T. Johnson Center

Warren Road Community Center

Of course, drink plenty of water and avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day. Instead, save the activity for early in the morning or evening.

SCE&G measures how much energy we're using. They say the record is 4820 megawatts used in a one hour period on July 27, 2005.

But no matter how hot it gets, there are ways to keep your energy bills from shooting sky high during the summer months.

Georgia Power says the easiest way to save money during the season is to keep your thermostat at 78 degrees.

For every degree below that setting, you use 3 to 5 percent more electricity. That can add up to about $20 extra per month.

For more conservation ideas, visit

And crank it up: this year is the 100th anniversary of air conditioning. Back in 1906, Stuart Cramer from North Carolina coined the term while applying for a patent for his process of controlling the humidity in the air of his southern textile mill. Click here for more information.

Georgia officials declared a statewide drought Wednesday, implementing tougher restrictions including a ban on outdoor water use between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm.

The director of the state environmental protection division says cities and counties still may enact harsher water restrictions.

To read the Georgia Environmental Protection Division's Drought Plan, visit their Water Resources page and click on "State Drought Management Plan".

And in South Carolina, the Department of Health and Environmental Control issued an ozone warning for our local counties.

Conditions are likely Thursday, June 22 for increased ground-level ozone concentrations in Aiken, McCormick, Edgefield and Barnwell counties.

When ozone levels are elevated, everyone--especially those with respiratory diseases like asthma--should limit outdoor activities.

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 1212 Augusta, GA 30903 Main Telephone: (803) 278-1212 Newsroom: (803) 278-3111 Fax: (803) 442-4561
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