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California Governor Activates Excessive Heat Emergency Plan

SACRAMENTO, California, July 7, 2008 (ENS) – In view of National Weather Service forecasts of temperatures in the 90s and 100s for much of California during the rest of the week plus concerns over increased levels of smoke and air pollution from hundreds of wildfires, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today directed state agencies to implement Phase II of California’s Contingency Plan for Excessive Heat Emergencies.

“We are coordinating with state and local agencies to help keep people safe during this excessive heat wave,” Governor Schwarzenegger said. “I urge all Californians to take proper health precautions as the temperatures rise into the 90s and 100s across the state – drink plenty of water and check on your neighbors who may be more vulnerable.”

In Phase II, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, OES, and the California Department of Public Health extend their outreach to the public and constituent groups.


Fires burning at Goleta, California
(Photo courtesy Goleta
Water District)

Staff and volunteers work to get the word out to vulnerable populations about heat-related assistance and prevention.

Cooling centers are being opened at state facilities; and contacts are reactivated with licensed care facilities, hospitals and other facilities that serve seniors, persons with disabilities and other special needs populations.

The OES coordinates regular conference calls with the National Weather Service offices throughout the state, to keep county emergency managers and representatives of key state agencies informed.

The State Operations Center is already functioning 24-hours a day to manage the state’s wildfire response, and they will now add key staff from other state agencies to closely monitor the heat wave and to respond to any heat-related issues.

A list of current cooling centers opened by local authorities along with heat illness prevention tips is available on the front page of the OES website at www.oes.ca.gov.

The governor urges all Californians living in or planning to visit areas for which extreme heat advisories and warnings are issued by the National Weather Services to prepare for the hot weather and use caution in their activities.

Californians can reduce their risk of heat-related illness by:

* Creating a cooler environment. Making sure that window air conditioners are installed snugly and ducts are properly insulated, weather stripping doors and sills and placing window reflectors made of cardboard covered with aluminum foil between windows and drapes
* Drinking plenty of water, especially when taking medication
* Wearing lightweight and light-colored clothing
* Avoiding physical activities during periods of peak temperatures
* Checking on neighbors, family members and pets to ensure they are not being harmed by the heat
* Watching for signs of heat-related illness, including fatigue, nausea, headache and vomiting
* Visiting malls, theaters and other public places that are air-conditioned if a person doesn’t have his or her own air conditioning

To reduce the risk of heat illness for those working outdoors, drink plenty of water – at least one quart per hour – take necessary breaks in the shade for at least five minutes when an employee believes they need a preventative recovery period and make sure all employees are trained about heat illness prevention before they begin working.

There will also be excessive smoke in many areas as a result of wildfires, so the governor and public health officials continue to encourage people in those areas to stay inside and limit their physical activity, especially children, the elderly and people with asthma and other respiratory problems.

Fire officials report that 54 uncontained large fires are burning across northern California. One of the most serious is the BTU Lightning Complex of 12 fires 27 miles north of Yuba City in timber, brush and logging slash. Power transmission lines, numerous residences and structures are threatened, and Highway 70 is closed.

Three wildfires are burning in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, threatening the communities of Hawkins Bar, Trinity Village, Big Bar and Big Flat, where evacuations are in effect.

Fire officials say that the fire surrounding the town of Big Sur on the central California coast is exhibiting “extreme” fire behavior. It has charred 80,186 acres, spreading fast in dry, dead fuels from Sudden Oak Death disease in the tan oak. Mandatory evacuations emptied the town last week.

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