Turlock residents are cranking up the AC and slathering on sunscreen as Valley temperatures finally reached summer norms this week. The temperature in Turlock is expected to reach 103 degrees today, and the sudden change in climate could spell trouble for many residents.
Stanislaus County Public Health officer, Dr. John Walker, said that when the temperature changes rapidly the body goes through acclimatization, a process of adjusting to the new temperature. It is during this process, Walker said, that people are most susceptible to heat-related illness.
“Right now it’s a little risky because we are in a very swift transition between spring and summer weather,” Walker said.
The Stanislaus County Office of Emergency Services has released recommended heat safety tips. The tips were created for extreme heat conditions, when temperatures reach above 100 degrees during the day and stay above 80 at night. Walker said that in 2006 an extreme heat situation caused 24 deaths in Stanislaus County. Although heat hasn’t reached extreme conditions yet, Walker said that the tips would help keep people safe and healthy during normal summer heat conditions.
Tips include staying indoors and out of the sun. Walker said that the temperature printed in the newspaper or available online is different from the temperature that people experience when they are outside in direct sunlight. This is both because the recorded temperature is usually taken in the shade and because the humidity can make it feel much hotter outside.
“A lot depends upon your level of exertion. People who are outside working or exercising will get much hotter,” Walker said.
Air conditioning is recommended if the air temperature remains above 90 degrees. If homes do not have air conditioning, the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency recommends finding an air conditioned building to stay in during the day. Drinking a lot of water, eating lighter meals and avoiding alcohol and caffeine are also recommended.
“The important thing is to be well hydrated,” Walker said.
The Turlock Fire Department issued a heat related safety tip in their June newsletter.
“Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, even with the window slightly open,” the newsletter stated.
Even if it’s only 80 degrees outside, a car with its windows up can become as hot as 130 degrees. It could take as little as 10 minutes for a child to die when left in a closed car. The fire department said that distractions have caused people to leave children in the car completely by accident. Leaving something you will need with the child in the backseat will make you notice the child when you leave the car.
Glena Jackson, head of Turlock Animal Services, said that the same tips apply to pets.
“Leaving a pet in a car, even for a short trip into the grocery, store can be deadly,” Jackson said.
It is illegal to leave an animal unattended in a car in inclement weather. Jackson said that animal control officers can break a window at the owner’s expense without notice if the officer feels that the animal is in immediate danger.
Temperatures are expected to dip back into the low 90s later in the week, according to the National Weather Service. However, Walker said that certain groups of people, including the elderly and people with previous medical problems, should still be aware of the heat risks.
People on certain psychiatric medications and people with cardiovascular disease are also at increased risk of heat-related illness.
“Look out for your neighbor. Check on anyone who is medically indigent or who lives alone,” Walker said.
To contact Andrea Goodwin e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141.