Local Residents are Reminded to Take Precautions to Avoid Heat-Related Illnesses

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IMPERIAL COUNTY – The Imperial County Public Health Department is asking Imperial County residents to take the appropriate precautions this summer in order to prevent heat-related illnesses.   Locally, thirty Cool Centers are available throughout Imperial County where individuals can cool off during the hottest parts of the day. Local public health officials are providing the public with information on precautions they can take when the temperatures rise.

Residents are encouraged to check on neighbors such as the elderly, disabled or young children that might be more vulnerable to heat-related illnesses. Young children are especially vulnerable to high temperatures and parents and caregivers of small children as asked to be especially vigilant about not leaving children in hot cars to avoid serious injury or even death.

“As outside temperatures rise, the risks of children dying from being left alone inside a hot vehicle also rises,” said Dr. Stephen Munday, county Health Officer.

These are tips for parents/caregivers:

  • Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle — even if the windows are partially open or the engine is running and the air conditioning is on.
  • Make a habit of looking in the vehicle — front and back — before locking the door and walking away.
  • Ask the childcare provider to call if the child does not show up for care as expected.
  • Do things that serve as a reminder a child is in the vehicle, such as placing a purse or briefcase in the backseat to ensure no child is accidentally left in the vehicle, writing a note or using a stuffed animal placed in the driver’s view to indicate a child is in the child-safety seat.
  • Teach children a vehicle is not a play area and store keys out of a child’s reach.

There are several steps individuals can take to protect themselves during extreme hot weather. Residents are urged to take the following precautionary measures to prevent heat-related illnesses, such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke:

  • Dress in lightweight, loose fitting clothing,
  • Drink a variety of fluids, including water, fruit juice and sports drinks,
  • Check on neighbors, especially seniors, children, and neighbors who live alone,
  • Keep physical activities to a minimum during the hottest part of the day,
  • Stay indoors and out of the sun during the hottest part of the day,
  • Use fans as appropriate,
  • Use cool showers, baths, misting and washcloths,
  • Avoid hot foods and heavy meals.

Individuals are advised to stay indoors with cool air during the hottest hours of the day and be even more vigilant when they do spend time outdoors. Going to air conditioned areas is an alternative when facing extreme heat, however, for those who live in remote areas this is not always possible and a number of community agencies have come together once again this year to provide cool centers that are conveniently located.

Agencies that have offered their locations as Cool Centers in Imperial County include the following (see attached flyer for additional contact information):

  • Camarena Public Library in Calexico
  • Clinicas De Salud Del Pueblo, Inc., (Calexico, El Centro, Brawley, Niland, Winterhaven, Mecca, Blythe, Coachella and West Shores Clinics)
  • Brawley Senior Center
  • Brawley Public Library
  • San Pasqual Family Resource Center
  • Seeley Community Church
  • Imperial Valley Desert Museum
  • El Centro Community Center
  • Westmorland Senior Citizen Building
  • El Centro Adult Center
  • Palo Verde Improvement Assoc.
  • Niland Chamber of Commerce
  • Imperial Valley Mall, El Centro
  • IV Expo (when Governor requests)
  • Salvation Army
  • City of Imperial Public Library
  • Holtville Civic Center
  • Imperial County Free Library: Holtville, Calipatria, Salton City, Heber

If you must go out to the heat, take the following precautions.

  • Try to go out before noon or in the evening.
  • Reduce your physical activity.  If you must participate in a physical activity outdoors, make sure you drink plenty of water.  Sports drinks may replenish the salt and minerals that you lose when you sweat.
  • Try to rest regularly in shaded areas.
  • Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide brimmed hat, sunglasses and apply sun block containing a protection level of SPF of 15 or greater (the more effective products indicate “UVA/UVB protection” on the label.)
  • Pet owners are encouraged to protect their pets from the summer’s heat by always keeping plenty of fresh water available for pets, providing access to a shaded area and never leaving animals in a car during the summer months.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, weakness, fainting and vomiting.  Heat stroke is considered a severe medical emergency.  The symptoms due to heat stroke include hot dry skin, rapid and strong pulse and possible unconsciousness.  Emergency medical assistance should be summoned immediately or the victim should be taken to the hospital immediately if suffering from heat stroke.

For more information on the Cool Centers and the various locations in Imperial County please call (442) 265-6777 or for more Summer Safety tips visit http://www.icphd.com/health-information-and-resources/health-&-wellness/summer-safety/.  In addition, 2-1-1 has created a map of all the cool centers in Imperial County.  The map is available at the following link: http://211sandiego.org/imperial-cool-centers