flickr photo by Jo-h
If you haven't noticed, things are heating up in Los Angeles. In Los Angeles proper, highs in the mid-90s are expected to prevail for the next few days.
And, as we all know, it gets hotter in the San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys, where highs of 103º and 99º, respectively, are this week's norm. (Temperature forecast gleaned from the Weather Underground site.)
As a result of the soaring Fahrenheit, the National Weather Service has issued an extreme heat watch as of this morning and continuing through Saturday evening in Los Angeles and Ventura counties.
The risk of overheating is compounded by the high humidity (it’s up to 50 percent), because it can interfere with the evaporation of sweat, an important part of our bodies’ cooling system.
We're all surfing this heat wave and subsequently need to be mindful of our own rising temperatures. We are urged to stay in an air conditioned space and drink plenty of fluids. It goes without saying that no one, particularly the elderly, children or pets, should be left in a car for any period of time, even if the windows are cracked.
Seniors are particularly vulnerable to the ravages of heat. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there are 400 deaths every year as a result of excessive heat. It's a toll that is preventable, says the CDC.
Forty percent of heat-related deaths occur among people over 65, said Dr. Thomas Cavalieri, founder of the New Jersey Institute for Successful Aging, in a recent article in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
"Many older individuals have medical conditions that increase the dangers of hot weather. Their bodies are slower to adjust to temperature changes and they may have a diminished thirst reflex that keeps them from drinking adequate amounts of liquid."
Unfortunately, many seniors don’t have air conditioning. Others do, but keep it off in an attempt to save on utility bills. If you are older, you’re advised to keep the air on at your home if at all possible.
“Fans don’t really help you that much when you’re in the ‘90s,” said Allegheny County Health Department spokesperson Guillermo Cole in another Pittsburgh Tribune Review article. “Really, a cool bath or a shower is a more effective way to cool off if you don’t have air conditioning.”
If you have someone you love, or even an acquaintance such as an older neighbor, who is aged 65 and older, you are advised to check in with them twice a day. If his or her home is not properly cooled, there are things you can do to help, including inviting them to stay with you a while in your air conditioned house or to take them to an air conditioned place like the mall.
If you’re heading to the grocery store, consider stocking up on extra water, juice and fruit, which can offer much-needed hydration for you and your older friends. It’s all about avoiding heat stress, which—according to the Erie County Senior Services website—puts a burden on the heart and blood vessels and can put you at risk for an array of serious medical problems.
According to the Erie County site, heat stress risks include heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heatstroke, heart failure and stroke. Not something to be taken lightly.
There are also some cooling centers around Los Angeles, particularly designed to help senior citizens chill out.
Click on the following link for a PDF released by the Los Angeles Department of Public Health, which includes heat-busting tips and a comprehensive list of cooling centers around Los Angeles County and their hours. (You can also dial 211 to check on your nearest local cooling center.)
Here's to your health, and here's hoping this snowcone-melting heatwave breaks soon.