The excessive heat warning issued by the National Weather Service Friday has been extended through Thursday as the Central Valley continues to broil under the high temperatures.
A strong pressure system is predicted to hover over the Central Valley through Thursday, bringing with it more days of 100 degree-plus weather. Today’s daytime temperature is expected to hit 106 degrees. Independence Day is forecasted for another grueling 106 degrees before Friday and Saturday offer a marginal respite, with temperatures in the upper 90s. Nighttime low temperatures are expected to remain in the 70s tonight and Thursday.
The Stanislaus County Office of Emergency Management Services has been monitoring the heat index and continues to advise residents to use caution when outside and keep a watchful eye on those that are more vulnerable to the taxing heat.
“The community should remain alert and minimize their risk by monitoring and changing their activities to remain cool,” said Dr. John Walker, Stanislaus County Public Health officer. “It would be wise to exercise extra caution planning and participating in outdoor events.”
The county OES is not opening 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.
The county is advising anyone without air conditioning visit one of the cool zones or stay with family and friends when the temperature is over 90 degrees. Officials also continue to ask for the public’s help in checking on and monitoring vulnerable people, including the elderly and those with medical issues.
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. There have not been any heat-related deaths reported in Stanislaus County from the current heat wave, but there has been an influx of people visiting emergency rooms for heat issues.
“In the emergency room we are seeing an increase in people coming in as a result of the heat wave,” said Emanuel Medical Center spokesperson Pennie Rorex. “Fortunately, we haven’t seen anyone with heat exhaustion, but we are seeing people with the symptoms.”
Anyone exposed for an extended period to extreme heat or work in hot environments may be at risk of heat stress, which can result in heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, or heat rashes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, workers at risk of heat stress include outdoor workers and workers in hot environments such as firefighters, bakery workers, farmers, construction workers, factory workers and others. Workers at greater risk of heat stress include those who are 65 years of age or older, are overweight, have heart disease or high blood pressure, or take medications that may be affected by extreme heat.
“Prevention of heat stress in workers is important,” said Dr. Greg Greenberg, medical director for Emanuel Medical Center’s Emergency Services.
Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related issue. It occurs when the body becomes unable to control its temperature: the body's temperature rises rapidly, the sweating mechanism fails, and the body is unable to cool down. When heat stroke occurs, the body temperature can rise to 106 degrees Fahrenheit or higher within 10 to 15 minutes.
“Heat stroke can cause death or permanent disability if emergency treatment is not given,” said Greenberg.
Heat exhaustion is more commonly seen during heat waves and in general is caused from a lack of fluid intake.
“Heat exhaustion is the body's response to an excessive loss of the water and salt, usually through excessive sweating,” said Greenberg.
“Most of the people we have been seeing have not been taking in enough fluids,” Rorex said. “Fluids, fluids, fluids. It’s just vital.”
Symptoms of heat-related illnesses include weakness and confusion, cold, moist or clammy skin, a rapid pulse and nausea.
The excessive heat can also pose a danger to pets and livestock as well. The Turlock Animal Shelter has been taking extra steps to keep the dogs and cats sheltered there in good health, including bringing in extra fans and putting some dogs in an air-conditioned building. The Animal Shelter is also on the lookout for anyone leaving a pet inside a vehicle.
“There is no tolerance and no exceptions for animals left in vehicles,” said animal services officer Glena Jackson. “If we see it, they will get a ticket.”