A man braves the heat on Tian'anmen Square in central Beijing as temperatures on Monday reached 40.3 C, the highest in July for the capital since 1951. Hot weather continued to scorch northern and southern parts of the country June 5, 2010. [China Daily]
The city's meteorological center issued the year's first orange-coded heat alert on Monday as Beijingers cranked up their air conditioners and the capital's consumption of electricity hit a new record.
The center's warning was made at 10:30 am but the mercury stayed sky-high all day and peaked at 40.6 degrees Celsius at 5 pm. The weather experts said the city's land surface temperature exceeded 55 degrees.
Following the news of the year's hottest day, the Beijing Electric Power Company (BEPC), announced a new record for power consumption. It said the city gobbled up 14,354 kilowatt-hours of electricity as Beijingers battled the heat.
Officials from BEPC said the company could meet demand and they remained confident that electricity supply would not be interrupted this summer.
"The power network in Beijing was upgraded before the Olympics in 2008," said Wei Jiaxiang, chief of the customer service center at BEPC.
Twenty-one mobile power plants, with a total volume exceeding 15,000 thousand kilowatt-hours, will stand by around the clock to ensure customers' needs are met, Wei told METRO.
The heatwave that has already lasted three days is expected to ease and temperatures should fall to around 30 degrees Celsius after rainfall on Wednesday.
However, the rain could continue until Saturday, leading to "sauna weather" during the second half of the week.
The number of people suffering from diarrhea and cardiovascular disease has risen in many hospitals. Doctors suggest people avoid exposing themselves to too much sun, especially around midday and said outdoor workers need to be especially careful.
However, some construction workers were clearly still toiling outdoors on Monday between 2 pm and 5 pm, which was the hottest part of the day.
Consistent hot weather has led to a sudden increase in patients seeking help for heat-related diseases at the city's hospitals. [Mirror Evening News]
"I work from 6:30 to 11:30 in the morning and from 2 to 6 pm in the afternoon," said an electric welder who was waiting outside the gate. He was wearing two long-sleeved shirts in order to protect himself from sparks caused by welding.
"I am used to the heat because it is even hotter when I weld," he told METRO.
He said welding is considered skilled construction work and requires high proficiency, so he had to work for at least five hours every shift.
According to a notice issued by the Beijing Human Resource and Social Security Bureau in 2007, working hours and intensity during the summer should be reduced. The bureau also said there should be a monthly subsidy of more than 60 yuan per person if the working temperature is more than 33 degrees Celsius. However, no workers interviewed by METRO had received the subsidy or even heard about it.
Yang Junqiang, the head of the project, admitted there had been no subsidies paid at that particular site, but emphasized that the developer had made other concessions because of the heat.
"We have postponed the working time in the afternoon from 1:30 pm to 2 pm," he said. "Also, we have prepared a lot of medicine in case of heat stroke."