If there’s one thing everybody’s talking about, it’s the triple-digit temperature weather we’re experiencing this week. It’s one thing to talk about, but it’s also important to take action to avoid any heat-related emergencies.
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The National Weather Service has confirmed that high temperatures will continue in the Santa Clarita Valley for the rest of the week and the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) says that air quality will be unhealthy for sensitive individuals as well.
The Los Angeles County Health Officer would like to remind everyone that precautions should be taken, especially by those individuals sensitive to heat.
“While people don’t need to be told it’s hot outside, they do need to be reminded to take care of themselves, children, the elderly, and pets when the weather gets hotter,” said Jonathan E. Fielding, MD, MPH, Director of Public Health and Health Officer. “When temperatures are high, prolonged sun exposure may cause dehydration, heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Never leave children, elderly people, or pets unattended in vehicles, even with the windows ‘cracked or opened,’ because temperatures inside can quickly rise to life-threatening levels. It is illegal, according to California law, to leave children alone in a car.”
Cooling centers, supported by Los Angeles County, are open during these periods of extreme heat; the SCV Senior Center on Market Street in Newhall and the Valencia Library are both available for those seeking relief from soaring temperatures.
Heat may worsen the affects of poor air quality in areas of heavy smog. People living or working in the Santa Clarita Valley with heart disease, asthma or other respiratory disease are urged to minimize outdoor activities. Schools that have children with sensitive conditions, including heart disease, asthma, other chronic respiratory diseases, should not participate in PE or outdoor physical activity and should stay indoors as much as possible.
If you plan to be outdoors, take precautions to protect yourself from the heat. Symptoms of dehydration and heat cramps include dizziness, fatigue, faintness, headaches, muscle cramps, and increased thirst. Individuals with these symptoms should be moved to a cooler, shaded place and given water or sport drinks. More severe symptoms such as diminished judgment, disorientation, pale and clammy skin, a rapid and weak pulse, and/or fast and shallow breathing may indicate heat exhaustion or impending heat stroke and requires immediate medical attention.
Several tips for beating the heat include:
- Wear light, loose-fitting, light-colored clothing.
- Drink water or electrolyte-replacing sports drinks often (do not wait until you are thirsty), and avoid drinking sweetened drinks, caffeine, and alcohol.
- Offer help to those in your neighborhood with limited access to air conditioning and transportation, such as seniors or those who are ill. Check on them frequently or take them to a location with air conditioning.
- During peak heat hours stay in an air-conditioned area. If you don’t have access to air conditioning in your home, visit public facilities such as shopping malls, parks, and libraries to stay cool.
- Avoid unnecessary exertion, such as vigorous exercise during peak sun hours, if you are outside or in a non-air conditioned building.
- Stay out of the sun if you do not need to be in it. When in the sun, wear a hat, preferably with a wide brim, and loose-fitting, light-colored clothing with long sleeves and pants to protect yourself from sun damage. And remember sun screen and sun glasses.
- Symptoms include muscular pains and spasms, usually in the stomach, arms or leg muscles.
- Usually results from heavy exertion, such as exercise, during extreme heat.
- Although heat cramps are the least severe of all heat-related problems, they are usually the first signal that the body is having trouble coping with hot temperatures. Heat cramps should be treated immediately with rest, fluids and getting out of the heat.
- Seek medical attention if pain is severe or nausea occurs.
- Symptoms include heavy sweating, pale and clammy moist skin, extreme weakness or fatigue, muscle cramps, headache, dizziness or confusion, nausea or vomiting, fast and shallow breathing, or fainting.
- First Aid: Heat exhaustion should be treated immediately with rest in a cool area, sipping water or a sports drink, applying cool and wet cloths and elevating the feet 12 inches.
- If left untreated, victims may go into heat stroke.
- Seek medical attention if the person does not respond to the above, basic treatment.
- Symptoms include flushed, hot and dry skin (no sweating), high body temperature (above 103F), confusion or dizziness, unconsciousness, throbbing headache, rapid, or strong pulse.
- Heat stroke is the most severe heat-related illness and occurs when a person’s temperature control system, which produces sweat, stops working. Heat stroke may lead to brain damage and death.
- First Aid: Call 911. Move victim to a cool shaded area. Fan the body, spray body with water.