If there is any season California shines best, it has to be summer. We have the beaches, the festivals,the mountain trails, and the perfect weather. However, the California summers can also be deadly. Heat waves, on average, have claimed more lives than other natural disasters such as floods, tornadoes, and even earthquakes. The worst single heat wave event in California occurred in 1955, when an 8-day heat wave resulted in 946 deaths. The heat wave in July 2006 additionally caused the death of 140 people over a 13-day period.
Excessive heat is determined by Heat Index Values. The heat index, also known as the apparent temperature, is what the temperature feels like to the human body when relative humidity is combined with the air temperature.
Healthy young people often do not recognize the dangers of exercising in the extreme heat and can become victims of the hot weather. Outdoor workers are at high risk of heat-related illnesses and employers should be aware of their responsibilities for providing safe working conditions.
Heat emergencies are often slower to develop, taking several days of continuous, oppressive heat before a significant impact is scene. Heat waves often do not strike victims immediately, but rather slowly take the lives of those most vulnerable. Specifically, the elderly, those in poor health and the young are most likely to experience heat-related illnesses.
Heat waves can be very stressful on the electricity grid, causing blackouts and power outages, especially in urban areas where demand will be high. During heat waves even the nights can become unbearable, especially for those without air conditioning, making it difficult to sleep. Prolonged exposure to the heat can cause heat exhaustion or even life-threatening conditions like heat stroke.
Follow these tips to prevent heat related illnesses:
- Never leave infants, children, the elderly, or pets unattended in a parked car.
- Drink plenty of fluids. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty.
- Dress in lightweight, loose-fitting clothing. Use a hat and sunscreen as needed.
- Drink fruit juice or a sports beverage to replace salts and minerals lost during heavy sweating (If a client/resident is on a low-sodium diet, check with his/her physician first).
- During the hottest parts of the day, keep physical activities to a minimum and stay indoors in air-conditioning and out of the sun.
- Use fans as needed.
- Open windows to allow fresh air to circulate when appropriate.
- Use cool compresses, misting, showers and baths.
- Avoid hot foods and heavy meals—they add heat to the body. Eat frozen treats.
- Make sure pets have plenty of water and shade.