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July 2, 2010 > Prepare for hot summer weather

Prepare for hot summer weather

Submitted By Cal EMA

Even though summer has just begun, state officials urge Californians to take steps now to prepare for any prolonged heat waves that might occur this year. Employers should also review their heat illness-prevention programs and remind employees of the importance of protecting themselves.

"Every Californian can reduce their risk of heat-related death or illness this summer by taking time now to review and update their emergency plans, learn first aid and CPR, restock their emergency supply kits, particularly their drinking water supplies, and create a cooler environment to beat the heat," said Cal EMA Secretary Matthew Bettenhausen.

Fluids are essential to avoidance of heat exhaustion, heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses. Officials strongly suggest Californians include plenty of drinking water in their emergency supply kits.

"Californians enjoy some of the sunniest weather in the nation," said Dr. Mark Horton, director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), "but we should be aware of sun and heat exposure risks and be prepared. When temperatures rise quickly, particularly in regions that don't typically have extreme heat, there are numerous health issues that can arise."

The Division of Occupational Safety and Health, better known as Cal/OSHA, investigations show that in 80 percent of the cases in which suspected heat illness occurred, the employer did not have a heat illness-prevention program. Heat illness is preventable. Preventing heat illness protects your workers and is good business. Health and safety problems and other health problems like heart attacks and falls may result from heat illness at the workplace.

With the heat also comes increased demand on the state's power grid. The California Independent System Operator Corporation (ISO) 2010 Summer Assessment indicates adequate electricity to meet this summer's expected peak demand but a quick moving wildfire or excessive heat could change that. Experts say that taking steps now can reduce your energy expenses and prepare you for unexpected power outages.

As part of their emergency planning efforts, officials also recommend Californians consider the needs of family members and neighbors who are elderly, have physical impairments and other unique needs.

"Infants, small children, seniors, people with illnesses and those on certain medications may be more susceptible to heat-related illnesses," noted Dr. Mark Horton. "Now, not when temperatures start to rise, is the time to obtain extra medications and special foods, to teach relatives or neighbors to operate life-safety equipment and to arrange for someone to check on those who live alone or have special needs."

For summer heat resources, visit Cal EMA at www.calema.ca.gov. Additional health tips can be found on the California Department of Public Health website at www.cdph.ca.gov.

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