During a terrible heat wave nearly three decades ago, I went to Las Vegas with one of my gal pals. It was a great vacation that included lots of cool indoor activities such as gambling, eating, drinking and seeing stage shows. We also did quite a bit of lounging in the shade near the hotel pool.
On our way home, the trip turned ugly when, just halfway into our trek, my car began to overheat. With about two hours yet to go, we had to turn off the air conditioner in order to keep the engine cool enough to run. The heat was unbearable. My skin began to get hot and red, and my eyes were going blurry. Before long I knew I was in trouble when I thought I was going blind. Thank goodness, before my eyes were totally useless, I had the sense to pull over and tell my friend she’d have to drive. I explained how I was feeling, and although she was uncomfortably warm, she seemed to be tolerating the heat a lot better than I was. I didn’t want to scare my friend, but I truly thought I was going to die.
We made it home in one piece, and I immediately went to bed to cool down. Little did I realize that I had probably been on my way to a heat stroke. I wish I would have known what to do to prevent such a bad reaction to the heat.
Rather than try to give you advice myself on how to handle extremely hot weather (goodness knows I’m no expert) please read and heed the information below that was recently sent to us by the City of Long Beach.
The city health officer for the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services (Health Department), Dr. Mitchell Kushner, is advising residents to take precautions against the heat that is expected to continue over the next few days. The National Weather Service is forecasting highs in the low to mid-90s through Saturday, Sept. 8 in Long Beach, and even higher temperatures in other parts of Southern California.
“It’s important for people to be familiar with and practice heat precautions to protect themselves from heat-related illness and injury, especially while participating in outdoor activities,” Kushner said. The elderly, those with chronic illnesses, infants and young children are at greater risk for heat-related conditions. However everyone should take precautions to reduce the risk of heat related illness and injury:
• Remain hydrated by drinking water before, during, and after outdoor activities
• Take frequent breaks while working or playing outdoors
• Wear loose-fitting, light clothing; wear a wide-brimmed hat to cover the face, ears and neck if outside
• Apply sunscreen (at least SPF 15) 15 minutes before going outdoors, and re-apply at least every two hours
• Drink plenty of fluids, but avoid beverages that have caffeine or alcohol
• Plan strenuous outdoor activities for cooler parts of the day, and limit time outside during peak heat
• Pace physical activities, starting slowly and picking up the pace gradually
• Wear sunglasses that provide 100-percent UVA and UVB protection. Chronic exposure to the sun can cause cataracts.
• Seek air-conditioned environments during peak heat at stores, malls, theaters, etc. A list of the city’s cooling centers is available at longbeach.gov/park/coolingcenters
• Check on frail, elderly or homebound individuals to make sure they are not affected by the heat
• Move to a cooler location at first sign of heat illness (dizziness, nausea, headaches, muscle cramps), then rest and slowly drink a cool liquid
• Never leave a child or pet in a parked car or asleep in the direct sunlight
• Make sure pets have plenty of shade and water to drink
• Prevent children from drowning by providing adult supervision at all times and having an entry-proof barrier that surrounds the pool or spa.
For more information on how to stay healthy during hot weather, visit the Health Department’s website at longbeach.gov/health .