San Diego officials give tips on how to avoid heat stroke, heat-related illnesses

SAN DIEGO - County health officials Friday offered some tips to help avoid heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses as temperatures are forecast to soar into the triple-digits in the mountains and exceed the 120 degree mark in the deserts.

A National Weather Service excessive heat warning is in effect to 8 p.m. Sunday for the mountains and deserts.

"Even short periods of exposure to high temperatures can cause serious health problems," county Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten said. "Doing work or physical activity outside on a hot day, spending too much time in the sun, or staying too long in an overheated place can cause heat-related illnesses, including heat stroke, exhaustion and cramps."

County health officials recommend residents stay in air conditioned areas during the hottest periods; wear light, loose-fitting clothing; drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol or sugary drinks; take cool showers; avoid leaving children; the elderly or pets unattended in a vehicle; avoid unnecessary outdoor work or activities and unnecessary sun exposure; and avoid using the oven.

Signs of heat stroke or exhaustion include a body temperature of 103 degrees or higher, dizziness, nausea, confusion and headache.

If a person shows signs of a heat-related illness, 911 should be called. Those showing the signs could be cooled in a shaded area, with cool water or a fan, or if he or she is alert, a cool shower, according to county health officials.

The stricken person should have his or her body temperature monitored, and should not be given fluids.

Those 65 and older, infants and children and people with chronic medical conditions are more prone to heat stress. County health officials recommended those with retirement-age neighbors check on their well-being.

Residents without air conditioning can go to a public place like a mall, library or senior center. Electric fans cannot be relied on for cooling if temperatures surpass 90 degrees, officials said.

The county runs an annual Cool Zone program, in which more than 100 air conditioned buildings are designated as cooling centers. The sites are identified with a blue sign with a polar bear symbol. A list of locations is available online at CoolZones.org or by calling 211.

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