People across the southwestern United States tried to stay cool on Saturday as a punishing heat wave was set to break temperature records.

The National Weather Service issued excessive heat warning for this weekend that covered more than 31 million people, mostly in Arizona, Nevada and California. Another 61 million people on the West Coast and in the South were under a heat advisory.

The Weather Service forecast 45 record high temperatures across the country before the weekend. Most of the predicted record times were in the Southwest.

Municipalities and community organizations struggled to provide water and cool shelter to their most vulnerable populations, primarily homeless individuals.

In Las Vegas, temperatures were projected to reach 116 degrees Fahrenheitand cooling centers and homeless shelters saw an increase in visitors.

Almost all 500 of the beds in the Salvation Army’s overnight shelter there have been occupied in recent days as the sweltering heat lingered into the night, according to Harold Laubach, county coordinator with the organization in southern Nevada.

The Salvation Army also offered a day cooling center in Las Vegas, which saw a daily average of 250 visitors last week. That figure jumped to 300 visitors in recent days and continues to rise, Mr. Laubach said.

“There are cooling centers all over the southern United States now,” Mr. Laubach said. “Many of them do the same thing, which is basically what keeps people alive and healthy.”

Heat is the leading weather-related killer in the United States, according to the Weather Service. Each year, about 67,000 people visit emergency rooms with heat illnesses, and about 700 people die from heat-related causes each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In Phoenix, where the temperature was predicted to reach 118 degrees Fahrenheit on Saturday, city officials reported an increase in heat-related calls to 911. On Thursday, the desert city matched a high with 33 such calls, said David Hondula, the director of the city’s heat-response office, at a news conference Friday. So far this year, 12 people died heat deaths in Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, officials said.

Some areas in the southwest, such as Tucson, Arizona, also reported excessive heat warnings for longer stretches than usual.

“Typically we just have excessive heat for three, four, five days in a row,” Aaron Hardin, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Tucson, said Saturday. The current heat advisory, Mr Hardin said, will expire on Monday but could extend through midweek. He added that this month, an extreme heat warning was in place for seven straight days, the longest ever issued by the station.

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