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County sees first heat-related death
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Stanislaus County recorded its first heat-related death of 2013 on Tuesday.

Firefighters responded to a modular home in Ceres on Tuesday evening and found a 77-year-old man unresponsive and down on the floor. According to the Stanislaus County Coroner's office, resuscitation efforts were started and the man was transported to a local hospital, where he was declared dead a short time later.

Firefighters noted that the air conditioner was working in the home, but it was not cooling properly and it was blowing hot air over 100 degrees. The Coroner’s Office determined that the cause of death was most likely attributed to the heat and other medical conditions.

“This unfortunate loss is a tragic reminder of how dangerous the Valley heat can be.  It is essential that our county residents protect themselves and their neighbors from this period of extended heat and humidity,” said Dr. John Walker, Stanislaus County Health Officer.

The Stanislaus County Office of Emergency Services and the Public Health Department are emphasizing the importance of checking on neighbors — particularly the elderly, sick and shut-ins.

“We are a caring community,” said Walker. “It is our community’s culture to reach out, especially to our seniors and those living alone. Being a good neighbor can help save a life.”

During the last extended heat wave in July 2006, 24 people in Stanislaus County died from heat-related illnesses, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Independence Day is forecasted for another grueling 106 degrees before Friday and Saturday offer a marginal respite, with temperatures in the upper 90s.

So far, the county has not opened up cooling centers, but is directing people to cooling zones throughout the various cities. A cooling zone is any public building or shopping center, like a mall, said Turlock Fire Department Chief Tim Lohman.

In Turlock the cooling zones are at the Turlock Library at 550 Minaret Ave.; the Homeless Assistance Ministry at 1030 East Ave; the Columbia Park water feature and pool at 600 Columbia St.; and the Broadway Park water feature at 501 N. Broadway.