It’s Hot – Precautions to Take during the Heat Wave

Hot, potentially unhealthy air in the local area is expected to continue through Sunday.

It’s hot and the air is unhealthy due to the heat wave we are experiencing from now through Sunday.

According to the South Coast Air Quality Management District,  the high temperatures are expected to persist over the next several days throughout the South Coast Air Basin, increasing the likelihood of Unhealthy to Very Unhealthy air quality in many areas.

Locally our air quality is in the moderate range at the time of publication. SCAQMD offers an interactive map to view current air quality conditions by region in an interactive map, see http://www3.aqmd.gov/webappl/gisaqi2/home.aspx or by phone, toll-free, at (866) 966-3293 (press 1 for English or 2 for Spanish, press 2, then enter your zip code)

Levels of ground-level ozone – the predominant summertime pollutant – are most likely to reach the Unhealthy to Very Unhealthy level in the Santa Clarita Valley, the San Gabriel Mountains, the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys, the Inland Empire and the San Bernardino Mountains.

While poor air quality is not unusual during summer months in the Southland, the National Weather Service is predicting a heat wave over the Southwest that will last through the beginning of next week or longer. Those conditions coupled with predicted atmospheric inversions that trap pollution near the surface may cause unusually high and persistent levels of poor air quality.

When air quality is Unhealthy and reaches an air quality index (AQI) range of 151 to 200, everyone may begin to experience some adverse health effects, and residents with higher sensitivity levels may experience more serious effects. When air quality is Very Unhealthy with an AQI range of 201 to 300, everyone in the region may experience more serious health effects.

Ozone air pollution can cause respiratory health problems, including trouble breathing, asthma attacks, and lung damage. Research also indicates that ozone exposure can increase the risk of premature death. Children, older adults, and people with asthma or COPD may be more sensitive to the health effects of ozone.

SCAQMD Advisory updates can be found at the following link:
http://www.aqmd.gov/docs/default-source/air-quality/advisories/advisory.pdf

To view current air quality conditions by region in an interactive map, see http://www3.aqmd.gov/webappl/gisaqi2/home.aspx or by phone, toll-free, at (866) 966-3293 (press 1 for English or 2 for Spanish, press 2, then enter your zip code)

  • Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups Air Quality Index (AQI) is 101 – 150. Although the general public is not likely to be affected at this AQI range, people with heart or lung disease, older adults and children are at a greater risk from exposure to air pollution. People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion.
  • Unhealthy AQI is 151 – 200. Everyone may begin to experience some adverse health effects, and members of the sensitive groups may experience more serious effects. People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion. Everyone else should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion.
  • Very Unhealthy AQI is 201 – 300. This would trigger a health alert signifying that everyone may experience more serious health effects. People with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should avoid all physical activity outdoors. Everyone else should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion.

The LA City Office of Emergency Management offers the following simple tips to stay cool:

  • Drink plenty of cool water! Stay hydrated.
  • Wear loose, light-colored clothing that will keep you cool. Wear sunscreen and a hat for protection.
  • Check on neighbors who might be vulnerable to the heat, especially those without air conditioning.
  • Never leave children or pets in a car – not even for one minute. Temperatures inside a car can quickly skyrocket to deadly levels.
  • If you work or play outside, take frequent breaks to hydrate and cool off in the shade.
  • Don’t forget the pets! Keep pets indoors if possible. If kept outside, give them plenty of water and shade to rest in.
  • Symptoms of heat-related illness include dizziness, fatigue, faintness, headaches, muscle cramps, and increased thirst. If you experience these symptoms, seek medical attention.
  • Do not leave your pet alone in the car. Not only is it dangerous, it is now illegal in California .Senate Bill 1806 which became law January 1, 2007, says no animal may be left unattended in a vehicle under conditions that “endanger the health or well-being of an animal due to heat, cold, lack of adequate ventilation, lack of food or water, or other circumstances that could reasonably be expected to cause suffering, disability, or death to the animal.” Companion animal guardians who leave their animals unattended under dangerous conditions could face fines, jail time or both. More hot weather tips from LA Animal Services can be found on their website.

Cooling Centers
If you need to cool off, the City of LA offers cooling centers where you can beat the heat. These cooling centers are in LA City facilities where you can enjoy recreation programming or a good book while you cool off. Cooling centers are open and available during regular hours of operation unless otherwise noted. The City Department on Disability works to provide reasonable accommodation to ensure accessibility and effective communications for people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs at cooling centers. You can call 3-1-1 from within LA City or use the links below to find out more about cooling center locations and hours of operation.

Recreation and Parks Facilities
Recreation and Parks facilities like recreation centers, senior centers, and museums are open to the public and serve as cooling centers during normal hours of operation.
To find your nearest Recreation Center, visit: laparks.org/reccenter
To find your nearest Senior Center, visit: laparks.org/scc
To find a Summer Night Lights location, visit: http://grydfoundation.org/programs/summer-night-lights/snl-sites/

Library Facilities
The Los Angeles Central Library and all branches serve as cooling centers during normal hours of operation, including Sunday hours at regional branches. Stop by to enjoy a book or browse the internet while you take a break from summer heat. To find your nearest library branch, visit: lapl.org/branches

L.A. County Facilities
Los Angeles County and neighboring cities also operate cooling centers during periods of extreme heat. For more information about these locations, call LA County 2-1-1 or visit the LA County website for a listing of active cooling centers: http://lacoa.org/PDF/coolingcenters.pdf

Heat-Related Illnesses
High heat can lead to severe health problems. If you experience the following conditions, seek medical attention immediately.

Heat Cramps
Symptoms include muscular pains and spasms, usually in the stomach, arms or leg muscles.
Heat cramps usually result 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.

Heat Exhaustion
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.

Heat Stroke
Symptoms include flushed, hot, moist skin or a lack of sweat, high body temperature (above 103ºF), confusion or dizziness, possible 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, and spray body with water.

Staying Healthy and Hydrated
The best way to avoid heat-related illness is to stay hydrated. Stay hydrated and seek shade when possible.

About Patricia Lombard

Patricia Lombard is the co-editor and publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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