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Heat wave tests city for 4th straight day

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 16: Chess players

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 16: Chess players use umbrellas to find shade in Union Square on July 16, 2013 in New York City. A stifling heat wave has descended upon the New York City region for the week; temperatures are expected to reach into the 100s. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images) Credit: Chess players use umbrellas in Union Square. (Getty)

Con Edison and city workers are scrambling to prevent outages, illnesses and deaths as the heat wave enters its fourth day Wednesday.

Con Edison has been calling its 4,018 customers using life-saving medical equipment and suggesting they check their battery backups in the event of electrical problems, said the company’s spokesman Chris Olert. ConEd has also put most of its 14,000 employees on 12-hour shifts and hired extra crews to be ready for any repair needs. High temperatures combined with high demand “puts extra stress on equipment,” Olert explained.

The utility is also offering $25 to residential customers who buy Energy Star room air conditioners between now and Aug. 30. (Visit for more information.)

As of late Tuesday, only 77 customers (most of whom were in Brooklyn and Queens) had outages out of 3.2 million accounts, Olert said. “We only have four feeders (malfunctioning) out of more than 1,200 — and that's excellent,” he said.

By Monday, the New York City Department for the Aging had already contacted 3,809 high-risk clients to see if they needed help obtaining fans or air conditioners, transportation to one of the city’s 435 cooling centers, or other assistance. Seventy-seven senior centers in the city were offering extended hours until 8 p.m., said Jon Minners, the Department's director of public affairs. More than 2,000 people used the cooling centers by Sunday.

Today is expected to hit 95 degrees and tomorrow is expected to hit 94, with no real relief until Sunday, when temps should drop back down to the 80s.

The NYC record for July 17 was 100 degrees, hit in 1953. “That record should be safe,” said Carl Erickson, a meteorologist for This week’s heat wave is made more uncomfortable because high humidity indexes have accompanied hot temps, “but this is nothing unusual. It’s the middle of summer! It’s July!” said Erickson.

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