Summer doesn’t officially begin until Sunday, but the Antelope Valley was basking this week in some summer-like conditions, and authorities urged the public to take simple common-sense steps to avoid heat-related ailments.
Temperatures are expected to be 15 to 25 degrees above normal across Southern California through the end of the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.
By midday, temperatures had already reached 99 in Lancaster and 98 in Palmdale.
Forecasters said the heat wave is expected to continue into early next week, with the highest temperatures expected over the weekend.
The National Weather Service recommends the following heat safety tips:
- Slow down. Reduce, eliminate or reschedule strenuous activities until the coolest time of the day. Children, seniors and anyone with health problems should stay in the coolest available place, not necessarily indoors.
- Dress for the weather. Wear lightweight, loose lifting, light-colored clothing to reflect heat and sunlight.
- Eat light, cool, easy-to-digest foods such as fruit or salads.
- Drink plenty of water (not very cold), non-alcoholic and decaffeinated fluids, even if you don’t feel thirsty. If you on a fluid restrictive diet or have a problem with fluid retention, consult a physician before increasing consumption of fluids.
- Use air conditioners or spend time in air-conditioned locations such as malls and libraries.
- Use portable electric fans to exhaust hot air from rooms or draw in cooler air.
- Do not direct the flow of portable electric fans toward yourself when room temperature is hotter than 90°F. The dry blowing air will dehydrate you faster, endangering your health.
- Minimize direct exposure to the sun. Sunburn reduces your body’s ability to dissipate heat.
- Take a cool bath or shower.
- Do not take salt tablets unless specified by a physician.
- Check on older, sick, or frail people who may need help responding to the heat. Each year, dozens of children and untold numbers of pets left in parked vehicles die from hyperthermia. Keep your children, disabled adults, and pets safe during tumultuous heat waves.
- For more heat health tips, go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention here.
State workplace-safety officials called on employers with outdoor workers to protect them from the intense temperatures.
“During times of sustained high heat, it is especially important that employers take the necessary steps to prevent heat illness for their outdoor workers,” said Christine Baker, director of the state Department of Industrial Relations.
California’s 10-year-old regulations for heat-illness prevention were amended effective May 1. The changes clarify requirements related to the provision of water rest and shade protections for all outdoor workers, which are detailed in Cal/OSHA’s guidance on the new requirements.
Employer requirements under the heat regulation include:
- Training for all employees and supervisors about heat-illness prevention;
- Provision of cool, fresh water as close as practicable to the work area at no cost to workers;
- Shade provided whenever the temperature rises above 80 degrees Fahrenheit and enough shade to accommodate the number of workers taking a break;
- Encouragement of employees to take cool-down rests and monitoring for symptoms of heat illness; and
- Acclimatization to ensure that workers, especially new hires, safely adapt to increased temperatures during a heat wave.
Special high-heat procedures are also required when temperatures reach 95 degrees or higher and workers are at greater risk. At these times, supervisors must take the following extra precautions:
- Observe workers for signs and symptoms of heat illness;
- Hold pre-shift meetings on safety and remind workers to drink water frequently;
- Require that workers take a cool-down rest every two hours; and
- Ensure effective communication systems are in place so that emergency assistance can be summoned immediately if necessary.
Cal/OSHA inspects work sites in outdoor industries such as agriculture, construction, landscaping, and others throughout the heat season. Through partnerships with various employer and worker organizations in different industries, the agency also provides consultation, outreach and training on heat illness prevention.