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Being prepared for summer heat at home and in vehicles vital to safety

As the summer heat ramps up, exceeding 110 degrees over the weekend in some parts of town, it’s imperative for residents to keep as cool as possible during the torrid summer months.

Staying cool at home is a must and keeping those air conditioning units in working order is one of the most important aspects in the upkeep of an AC unit.

“The most important thing an individual can do is make sure that the air filter is clean or replaced on a monthly basis,” said Rick Kostelaz, managing partner of Empire Air Conditioning and Heating, LLC. “If it’s all dirty, replace it. That is the number one most important thing that you can do.”

Aside from the monthly air filter check, Kostelaz said serving the air conditioning units themselves on a routine basis is also key to keeping AC units operating as usual.

“We usually come out before the season starts and do a system check,” he said. “When we do that we check everything there is to look at on the system and make sure it is working properly.

“Most of the time they are operating properly.”

Even with the unit checkup, which Kostelaz recommends a person has done to their AC unit once every three years, even though some have it done yearly, something can go wrong after a checkup as component failures happen out of nowhere.

“Most of the time something goes wrong what happens is, we check the system out and everything will be running fine, and then the hot weather comes and a month later something in the system fails,” he said. “There is no way, generally to predict that failure, even with the checkup. So even though it’s good to do a system check and it gives you peace of mind, it doesn’t guarantee that the system isn’t going to malfunction.”

Kostelaz explained that on average, an AC unit in Pahrump will last about 12 to 15 years, compared to Las Vegas, where a unit could last up to 20 years.

When a unit malfunctions, some homeowners that have a home warranty can get their repairs done at no cost to them, but there is a limit to what those cover.

“The home warranties are kind of a mixed blessing. There’s a lot of stuff that the home warranties won’t cover, like maintenance items, but they do cover actual failures,” Kostelaz said. “If something fails they will replace it, but that’s all they’ll replace.”

Kostelaz said that the AC unit checkups are not covered by warranties, so that cost will still come out of a homeowner’s pocket even if they have a home warranty.

Another key area to be mindful of during the scorching summer temperatures is in one’s automobile.

Temperatures can heat up 20 degrees to 30 degrees higher that what the outside temperature is, when a car is left baking in the desert heat.

Pahrump Valley Fire and Rescue Chief Scott Lewis explained there is a group to be especially careful with while in a vehicle.

“As the temperatures in vehicles can rise dramatically within minutes, we are reminding everyone to be especially mindful of children, the elderly and pets in the vehicle,” Lewis said. “Drivers should not leave them inside cars for any extended period of time.”

Lewis explained that if for some reason a person lacks the ability to go in and out as you are out and about, there are precautions that must be taken to ensure their safety.

“If you have to take someone with you who is unable to leave the car for whatever reason, you want to make sure that the engine remains running and the air conditioning on while running errands,” he said. “These incidents happen every summer across the country, but it is very preventable. You want to use appropriate prevention measures and make sure no one is left inside a parked vehicle, especially this time of year in southern Nevada.”

The Department of Health and Human Services cautioned that children and seniors are especially susceptible to the heat and additional precautions should be taken if you are in care of anyone in that age set.

To help prevent heat-related illness, spend time in locations with air conditioning when possible. Drink plenty of fluids. Good choices are water and diluted sport electrolyte drinks (one part sport drink to two parts water) unless told otherwise by a doctor.

Choose lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.

Limit outdoor activity to morning and evening hours.

Contact reporter Mick Akers at makers@pvtimes.com. Follow @mickakers on Twitter.

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