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Talkin' 'bout a heat wave

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At 108 degrees on campus Monday — just one degree shy of 1939's 109-degree record for the hottest day ever recorded at UCLA — it was all but impossible to avoid conversations about the weather.
 
"As hot as I expected today would be, I never would have forecast 108 degrees at UCLA," UCLA meteorologist James Murakami said on his weather forecast page, housed on the department of atmospheric and oceanic sciences website. The scorching temperature broke UCLA's previous same-day high of 104 in 1963.
 
Though low clouds and a more than 10-degree temperature drop freed UCLA from record-breaking levels of discomfort Tuesday, high temperatures continued across Southern California, reaching 95 on campus. County health officials urged residents to take common-sense precautions.
 
Campus emergency response dispatchers reported no heat-related distress calls on Monday, despite the sizzling temperatures. A 113-degree high recorded in downtown Los Angeles was an all-time record for the location, dating to 1877. 
 
Late Tuesday, the Office of Residential Life reported three cases of students feeling ill Monday night due to the heat. "Two were transported to the emergency room," said ORL Director Suzanne Seplow.
 
On hot days like Monday, UCLA provides employees who work outdoors with extra water and caps with neck shades, among other things, said Miles Kitasato, assistant grounds supervisor for UCLA Landscape and Grounds.
 
On all hot days, "our supervisors remind their staff at the morning roll call about the dangers of heat illness, to stay hydrated and to stay cool during the hottest periods of the day," he said. "We have not had any heat-related injuries for Grounds in the 12 years I have been here at UCLA, and we want to keep it that way."
 
Only a handful of UCLA's more than 100 buildings lack air-conditioning, noted Jack Powazek, associate vice chancellor for general services. Moore Hall, the west side of Rolfe Hall, the upper floors of Dodd Hall and parts of the old Life Sciences Building are among the few AC-less locations. On the residential Hill, about 3,800 of the almost 10,000 on-campus students live without air-conditioning as well.
 
On days like Monday, "It's bad," Powazek said empathetically, recalling his own days as a student in overheated Moore Hall and noting that buildings that still lack AC would currently be too expensive to retrofit. "Fortunately, this has been the first bad day we've had all summer, and hopefully this will be it."
 
In buildings like Moore Hall and Rolfe, staff were encouraged to take a laptop and work in the library, work from home or otherwise coordinate with their supervisors if the heat became unbearable.
 
"Yesterday was awful!" said Matthew Giangrande, an administrative assistant in Rolfe, who praised his boss for encouraging employees to find a way to work elsewhere — and letting them wear flip-flops. "We all brought fans to try and cool off, but they didn't do much but circulate the hot, dry air."
 
Despite the heat and jokey messages flying back and forth on Twitter between Bruins — "At UCLA trying not to fall over from heat stroke," "I felt like melting!" — there were only three cases of heat-related health problems reported on campus.
 
UCLA sports teams practiced as usual, said Marc Dellins, spokesman for UCLA Athletics.
 
"We have athletic trainers at every practice," Dellins said. "Our director of sports medicine told our athletic trainers to remain diligent about closely monitoring workouts and having additional fluids available."
 
The campus's air-conditioned gym seemed especially full yesterday, said Elisa Terry, an assistant director with UCLA Cultural and Recreational Affairs.
 
"We just kept monitoring people and gave them warnings about what to look for as signs of heat exhaustion," Terry said. "The building was filled. Everyone was trying to work out indoors."
 
Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center didn't receive any visits from patients with heat-related health problems, nor did the Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center.
 
"We're having more of an increase in allergy and asthma symptoms," such as running noses and congestion, said Chris Lewis, director of nursing. 
 
Lewis offered the same common-sense advice as others: "Don't be out exercising in the heat, and make sure you carry water around with you."
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