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Take Steps to Reduce Effects of Excessive Heat

Posted on September 1, 2017

Beat The Heat

Triple-digit temperatures prompt warning from National Weather Service

San Rafael, CA – The National Weather Service has issued an Excessive Heat Warning through the Labor Day weekend for most of California, including Marin County. Additionally, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District has issued an air quality advisory because of smoke from Northern California wildfires blowing into the region.

The combination of excessive heat and poor air quality will increase the risk of both heat and respiratory illnesses. In response to the conditions, the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) along with Marin County Office of Education, has recommended that children’s outdoor sporting events scheduled for Friday be canceled. The recommendation may be extended through the weekend as conditions merit. Also, cooling centers have been established at locations throughout Marin County.

Marin HHS reminds people to take the necessary precautions to avoid heat-related illnesses. Elderly people, infants and children, and people with chronic medical conditions are more prone to heat-related stress and injuries. Residents are encouraged to drink plenty of cool, nonalcoholic beverages regardless of activity level to help prevent heat related illness and injuries.

“This is a big weekend for people to be gathering together outdoors,” said Dr. Matthew Willis, the County’s Public Health Officer. “Alcohol increases the risk of heat stroke. It’s particularly important that people stay hydrated and try to stay out of the sun. Unfortunately, we are facing a combination of heat and poor air quality, and I encourage people with respiratory conditions to avoid extended time outdoors.”

Over the long weekend the high temperature forecasts may set new records for the area, and HHS encourages everyone to be on the lookout for heat-related illnesses, either in themselves or their families and friends.

Heat Cramps

Heat cramps occur as muscular pains and spasms due to heavy exertion. Although heat cramps are the least severe, they are often the first signal that the body is having trouble with the heat. Symptoms include painful cramps, especially in the legs, and flushed, moist skin. Treatment involves moving to a cool place to rest. Remove excess clothing and place cool cloths on skin and fan skin.

Heat Stroke

Heat stroke is a serious illness characterized by a body temperature greater than 105 degrees. Symptoms may include dry red skin, convulsions, disorientation, delirium and coma. Onset of heat stroke can be rapid; serious symptoms can occur within minutes. Treatment involves the rapid lowering of body temperature by taking a cool bath or applying wet towels to the body. Keep victims of heat stroke in a cool area and call 911 immediately.

Heat Exhaustion

Heat exhaustion is a milder form of heat stroke that may develop due to a combination of several days with high temperatures and dehydration in an individual.  Signs of heat exhaustion include extreme weakness, muscle cramps, nausea or headache. Victims may also vomit or faint. Heat exhaustion is treated with plenty of liquids and rest in a cool, shaded area.

Consider the following tips and suggestions to avoid heat-related illness, including:

  • Stay indoors as much as possible and limit exposure to the sun
  • Drink plenty of fluids and replace salts and minerals in your body. A sports beverage can help replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat.
  • Alcohol contributes to dehydration. Limit intake of alcoholic beverages.
  • Closely monitor a local radio station or TV station for the latest information.
  • To receive emergency alerts on your smartphone, register your number with the Alert Marin notification system at
  • Dress in loose-fitting, lightweight, and light-colored clothes that cover as much skin as possible. Protect face and head by wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
  • Spend time in air-conditioned places. If you cannot afford an air conditioner, spend some time each day in an air-conditioned environment such as public libraries, shopping malls or other indoor public spaces.
  • Stay on the lowest floor, out of the sunshine if air conditioning is not available.
  • Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.
  • NEVER leave children or pets alone in closed vehicles.
  • Avoid strenuous work during the warmest part of the day. Use a buddy system when working in extreme heat, and take frequent breaks.
  • Eat well-balanced, light, and regular meals. Hot, heavy meals add heat to your body. Avoid using salt tablets unless directed to do so by a physician.
  • Check on family, friends, and neighbors who do not have air conditioning and who spend much of their time alone.
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