Heat Warning For Los Angeles County In Effect For Holiday Weekend

Triple Digit Temperatures Are Expected, So Extra Care Must Be Taken

By Dolores Quintana

With scorching temperatures forecasted this holiday weekend, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) is reminding the public about the risks of heat-related illnesses. The National Weather Service warns of hot and dry weather conditions, heightening fire dangers across the desert, lower mountains, and interior valleys. Daytime temperatures are expected to reach the 90s to a sweltering 109 degrees Fahrenheit, with Saturday projected as the hottest day.

Extreme heat poses a significant health threat, particularly to vulnerable populations, including young children, the elderly, individuals with chronic conditions, pregnant women, people with disabilities, and those who are socially isolated. Public Health emphasizes the crucial importance of never leaving infants, children, pets, or individuals with impairments unattended in parked cars, as temperatures inside can rapidly escalate to life-threatening levels. If such a situation is observed, immediate action should be taken by calling 911.

For individuals at substantial risk, having a friend or relative check on them twice daily during the heatwave is strongly advised. Extending this support to those known to have a heightened vulnerability to heat-related illnesses, such as the sick, older adults, pregnant women, children, and those living alone, is equally crucial. Infants and young children, in particular, require more frequent monitoring.

To ensure personal safety during extreme heat, the following simple yet vital steps should be taken:

Stay Cool:

  • Individuals without air conditioning should seek respite in cooling centers, libraries, or public places like shopping malls for a few hours each day.
  • While electric fans offer some comfort, they do not prevent heat-related illnesses when temperatures soar into the high 90s. Opting for a cool shower or bath or finding an air-conditioned location is a more effective way to cool off. Additionally, using cool compresses can provide relief.
  • Minimize the use of stoves and ovens to maintain a cooler temperature indoors.
  • Avoid physical exertion and exercise outdoors during the hottest parts of the day to prevent overheating. Seek medical attention if experiencing a rapid, strong pulse, delirium, or a body temperature exceeding 102 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Limit exposure to the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when ultraviolet (UV) rays are at their strongest. Engage in minimal physical activities during this time.
  • Use cool compresses or misting to stay refreshed.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water or fluids throughout the day, even if you are not feeling thirsty. Sugary, caffeinated, and alcoholic beverages should be avoided as they contribute to dehydration. Very cold drinks should also be avoided as they can cause stomach cramps.
  • It is crucial to replenish the salt and minerals lost through heavy sweating. Sports drinks can aid in this replacement. However, individuals on a low-salt diet, those with diabetes, high blood pressure, or other chronic conditions should consult with their doctor before consuming sports beverages or taking salt tablets.
  • Ensure pets have access to ample fresh water and shade to keep them hydrated.

Recognizing Heat-related Illnesses and Taking Action:

Heat-related illnesses can manifest in various medical conditions, including heat rash, heat cramps, fainting, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke, which can be fatal. Warning signs may include heavy sweating, muscle cramps, weakness, headache, nausea or vomiting, paleness, tiredness, dizziness, disorientation, or confusion.

  • Heat Cramps: Cease physical activity and move to a cool place. Drink water or a sports drink. Avoid resuming strenuous activities for several hours after the heat cramps subside. Seek immediate medical attention if cramps persist for over an hour, if you are on a low-sodium diet, or if heart problems are present.
  • Heat Exhaustion: Move to a cool location and rest, lying down. Loosen clothing and apply cool, wet cloths to the body (e.g., head, neck, armpits, groin) or take a cool shower or bath. Sip on cool, non-alcoholic beverages. Seek medical help if vomiting, worsening symptoms, or symptoms lasting longer than an hour.
  • Heat Stroke: Heat stroke is a medical emergency. Call 911 immediately. Move the affected person to a cooler or shaded area. Help lower their temperature by applying cool, wet cloths to their head, neck, armpits, and groin or by providing a cool bath. Refrain from giving them anything to drink.

Public Health also offers additional recommendations during high-temperature days:

  • Exercise caution with potential fire ignition sources such as fireworks and lawn care equipment.
  • Ensure the safety of children around cars by never leaving infants or children unattended inside vehicles. Check the temperature of safety seats and belts to ensure they are not too hot before securing a child.
  • Teach children not to play in or around cars to prevent accidental entrapment in a hot vehicle.
  • Always lock car doors and trunks, even when at home, and keep keys out of children’s reach. Double-check that children have exited the car upon reaching the destination.
  • Regularly check on family, friends, and neighbors at risk of heat-related illnesses, including those who are sick or have chronic conditions, older adults, pregnant women, children, individuals living alone, and outdoor workers and athletes. Seek immediate medical attention if symptoms such as high body temperature (103°F or higher), vomiting, dizziness, confusion, or hot, red, dry, or damp skin are observed, as these could indicate heat stroke.
  • Opt for light, cool, and easily digestible foods like fruits or salads. When carrying packed food, use a cooler or ice pack and avoid leaving it exposed to direct sunlight. Meats and dairy products can quickly spoil in hot weather.
  • If wearing a mask, refrain from engaging in strenuous workouts while using face coverings not specifically designed for athletic purposes.
  • Stay updated by checking local news for weather forecasts, extreme heat alerts, safety tips, and information on cooling centers in the area.

To locate nearby cooling centers and access free cooling facilities for those without air conditioning, individuals can visit https://ready.lacounty.gov/heat/ or contact 211 for assistance.

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