Stay Cool During High Heat

June 28, 2013 | 7:50am

With temperatures expected to reach 120 in San Diego County deserts and 100 in local mountains this weekend, County health officials are reminding the public to take precautions to avoid heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses.

“Even short periods of exposure to high temperatures can cause serious health problems,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer. “Doing work or physical activity outside on a hot day, spending too much time in the sun, or staying too long in an overheated place can cause heat-related illnesses, including heat stroke, exhaustion, and cramps.”

To avoid heat-related problems, health officials recommend the following:

  • Stay in an air-conditioned area during the hottest hours of the day
  • Wear light, loose-fitting clothing
  • Drink plenty of water (avoid alcohol and sugary drinks) and don't wait until you are thirsty
  • Take cool showers
  • Never leave a child, elderly person, or pet unattended in a car
  • Avoid unnecessary hard work or activities outside during the hottest part of the day
  • Avoid unnecessary sun exposure and wear a wide-brim hat if you need to be in the sun
  • Avoid using the oven to cook

An extremely high body temperature (103 or higher), dizziness, nausea, confusion, and headache are signs of heat stroke or exhaustion. If someone shows these signs, call 9-1-1 and begin cooling the individual by:

  • Moving them to a shaded area
  • Spraying with cool water and fanning them
  • Placing them in a cool shower if they are alert
  • Monitoring the body temperature, and continue cooling efforts
  • Do not give the victim fluids to drink

Elderly people (65 years and older), infants and children, and people with chronic medical conditions are more prone to heat stress. People with elderly neighbors should check on the well-being of the older persons.

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People who do not have air conditioning in their homes can go to a public place such as a shopping mall, library or senior center (cooling zone) to stay cool. Even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler.  Do not rely on electric fans for cooling if temperatures exceed 90 degrees.

The County operates the Cool Zones program and has designated more than 100 air-conditioned buildings as cooling centers. The sites are identified by a light blue Polar Bear Cool Zone logo. Call 2-1-1 San Diego or visit CoolZones.org for a list of locations.