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Shanghai takes measures to guard against the bitter freeze

    Shanghai takes measures to guard against the bitter freeze



    Hippos at the Shanghai zoo get a “hot spring” bath.

    Road signs have been added, water pipes wrapped and animals given heaters as part of a series of measures to deal with the freezing weather.

    The first cold snap of winter arrived yesterday. At 5pm, Shanghai Meteorological Bureau issued a blue alert for haze, the lowest of a four-tier warning system. Meanwhile, a blue alert for cold wave, released at 5pm on January 7, remained in place. It forecast a temperature drop of up to 10 degrees Celsius within 48 hours. As a chilly wind from the north swept city streets, it also brought in pollutants. PM2.5 particles which was the main problem during the day yesterday got worse at night, but is expected to get better today.

    Morning temperature is expected to fall to minus 1 degree Celsius downtown and minus 4 degrees in suburban areas today. It will further drop to minus 3 degrees in downtown on Thursday and Friday and minus 7 degrees in the suburbs. Residents are warned to brace for icy roads and severe freezes. On Saturday, it will hit 1 degree at the lowest, with expected rise to 9 degrees Celsius maximum.

    People are turning on air conditioners and heaters at home and offices to fight the cold, causing the electricity consumption to reach 25.63 million kilowatts, which set the new winter record for the city.

    The city’s power supplier, the State Grid Shanghai Electric Power Co, has transmitted 10.5 million kilowatts of feasible electric capacity from outside the city to make sure the power system operates smoothly.

    “We estimate the peak electric load will reach 26.5 million kilowatts,” said Gu Weicheng, a company official, “but we can handle 28 million kilowatts.”

    Meanwhile, about 3,000 repair workers have formed some 300 teams to prepare for blackouts or other emergency situations during the cold wave. The company said residents who encountered electric problems can dial 95598 for help.

    The city’s water supply company, Shanghai SMI Water Group, has sent teams out and wrapped up water pipes and other facilities in 1,993 residential communities. The water group used extra cotton to make sure the cold wave does not affect water facilities out in the open.

    According to the statistics from the city’s gas company, the number of requests for repairs reached 1,150 on average since the beginning of the year, 30 percent higher than that last month.

    The company warned that cold wave weather is more likely to lead to gas accidents because of weak ventilation since people keep windows and doors closed.

    “We have been inspecting gas conditions in residential communities,” said Zhang Weihua, a gas company worker, “especially the old ones and shikumen (stone-gate) buildings.”

    In Minhang District, the authority has launched inspections to keep the homeless safe. A senior official said most of the homeless will be sent to a rescue station where extra quilts and food are provided.

    Shanghai traffic police has put measures in place in case of emergencies at key sections of the city’s streets including the bridges and tunnels across the Huangpu River, elevated roads, sharp turns on expressways and underpasses.

    Additional traffic signs and safety equipment have been installed where necessary, and police said they will deploy more officers to spots where accidents tend to happen in icy weather conditions.

    They will step up patrols on major streets between evening and early morning and traffic control measures will be applied where ice on the road poses a risk to vehicles and pedestrians. Shanghai Road Administration Bureau said it has prepared enough sand, straw bags, snow-melting agents and tools for bad weather.

    Measures are also being taken to protect animals. Shanghai Zoo is taking various precautions such as preparing extra nutritious meals and installing heaters. Herbivores such as giraffes are being fed with nutritious food such as pumpkins, sugar canes, and bean pulp to keep them warm, while primates are treated with food high in calories such as red dates, sugar cane and nuts, animal keepers said.

    Heating facilities and air conditioning have been installed for some animals along with heavy curtains.

    This is the first winter for South American tapir Hua Duo who was born at the zoo in May. The animal is the largest surviving native terrestrial mammal in the Amazon where temperatures are around 20 degrees Celsius. Shanghai’s chilly weather is a challenge for Hua Duo, keepers said. To protect South American tapirs, floor heating and air conditioning have been installed.

    Fennec foxes are also vulnerable to cold. Keepers have prepared wooden boxes for them with soft cotton pads. Hippos are being provided with a “hot spring.” The water has a temperature of 20 degrees, allowing hippos to enjoy a comfortable and warm bath. The temperature of the elephant house is also being kept at above 10 degrees. The zoo is home to more than 5,000 animals of over 470 species.