Sacramento, California - In response to forecasts of excessive heat early next week, especially in Southern California, state officials are urging Californians to prepare for potentially record-breaking temperatures starting Sunday. State agencies and utility companies have already implemented plans and taken steps in anticipation of the heatwave.
This warming trend has prompted the issue of Excessive Heat Watches and Warnings by the National Weather Service (NWS) Sunday through Wednesday in desert and high-desert areas, as well as parts of Fresno, San Diego, San Bernardino, Riverside, Imperial and Orange Counties.
"Heat-related emergencies cause dozens of deaths in California each year and prompt thousands of people to seek treatment at local emergency rooms," said California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith. "In 2006, nearly 200 people died in California from extreme heat. High temperatures need to be taken very seriously. People should protect themselves and watch out for others who might be vulnerable to extreme temperatures, especially the elderly, people with existing health conditions and people who are isolated."
Based on the forecasts by the National Weather Service, state agencies have already begun to issue calls for preparedness through news releases, social media and direct contact with industries where heat impacts workers.
"We've seen the dramatic impacts of excessive heat on the state in years past, so we developed a comprehensive outreach, preparedness and response plan for times like this," said Mark Ghilarducci, Director of the Governor's Office of Emergency Services. "This plan describes state operations during heat-related emergencies and provides guidance for state agencies, local government, and non-governmental organizations in the preparation of their heat emergency response plans and other related activities.
"Our goal is to get ahead of the potential impacts and try to prevent as many incidents of heat illness or injury as possible," said Ghilarducci. "We've already been coordinating with a wide range of agencies and industries to minimize the potential for energy shortages and encourage conservation," said Ghilarducci. "It's critical every Californian take this seriously and follow steps now to prevent heat illness and conserve power this next week."
Key actions those impacted by the excessive heat can take to reduce their risk of heat-related death and injury include (Fast Facts Guide by CDPH):
- Keep a close eye on local media for the latest weather forecasts and information from local officials
- Learn the signs of heat-related illness
- Stay out of the sun
- Drinking plenty of liquids and reducing physical activity
- Identify a cool location such as the mall, the theater or a designated cooling center that you can go to
- Use cool compresses, misting and baths to lower body temperatures
- Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing and sunscreen
- Take shelter and breaks periodically, as well as staying hydrated, if you must work outside
- Check periodically friends, family members and neighbors who may be especially sensitive to the impacts of excessive heat
- Employers should provide enough fresh water so that each employee can drink at least 1 quart, or four 8-ounce glasses, of water per hour, and encourage them to do so
As a result of the forecasted excessive high temperatures, Cal OES has coordinated with state and local agencies who are taking a multitude of steps to prepare and respond. Here are some of the actions taken recently:
- Multi-agency Coordination: Active coordination calls led by Cal OES with key state and federal agencies, the National Weather Services and affected operational areas and regions to provide critical weather and energy updates and identify actions needed
- Regional Emergency Management Coordination: Cal OES's Regional staff are working with local counties and public safety agencies to provide prevention information and assess needs as the heat builds through next week
- Energy and Power Management: Coordination by Cal OES with the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), California Energy Commission, California Public Utilities Commission and the California Utilities Emergency Association to assess California's energy and power systems. Including a plan for Aliso Canyon
- Extensive Public Education/Outreach: Agencies and organizations are providing multi-language public information through websites, social media, multimedia products - Summer Heat Resources, DIR Heat Illness Prevention, Flex Alert and Energy Conservation, Public Service Announcements and Podcasts, Preventing Wildfires
- Special Needs Populations: Paying attention to those with access and functional needs through coordination and outreach efforts a Cal OES, Department of Developmental Services, the Department of Aging, Department of Rehabilitation and non-governmental organizations
- Public Health Outreach: CDPH is reaching out to local public health agencies and officials with notices and information about the heat - urging them to implement local heat plans where necessary and issuing alerts through the California Health Alert Network (CAHAN)
- Preventing Worker Illness and Injuries: Cal/OSHA will inspect outdoor worksites in industries such as agriculture, construction, landscaping, and others throughout the heat season. (see news release)
- Anticipating Impacts to Agriculture: The California Department of Food and Agriculture is contacting Agricultural Commissioners throughout the state to ensure information is being shared
Increased Staffing Statewide for Wildfire Threats: The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) has increased its firefighting staffing as elevated fire danger persists across many areas of California