2016-06-23 / Breaking News / Front Page

FEELING THE HEAT: Mariposa, rest of region brace for ultra-hot weather; officials urge caution

Matt Johnson

Temperatures are expected to climb this week, but officials are offering advice to help Mariposans to not sweat the heat.

With the temperature expected to reach 102 degrees on Wednesday before “cooling” off to 101 degrees on Thursday and 99 degrees on Friday, area residents will need to be mindful of how to avoid affliction from the heat’s effects.

Potential harmful effects include sunburn, heat stroke and heat exhaustion.

The Mariposa County Health Department recommends avoiding strenuous activity during the heat of the day, staying in a cool environment like an air conditioned home or business, relaxing in the shade while drinking plenty of water, or visiting the community pool facility. Outdoor activities are the safest in the cooler morning and evening hours.

If you cannot avoid the daytime heat, remember to stay hydrated — do not wait until you are thirsty to drink water and be sure to drink enough water that your urine is a pale yellow color. Dark urine is a sign of dehydration. Dehydration increases your chance of heat illness or death during hot weather.

Minimize strenuous activity, wear sunscreen and recognize the signs your body sends to slow down and take a break.

While in a hot environment, if you begin to sweat excessively and feel generalized weakness and/or muscle cramping, it is time to rest in the shade and begin to drink more water. This is the beginning of heat exhaustion and could continue to get worse if you do not rest. If you start to experience heat exhaustion and do not rest, heat stroke, a life threatening emergency, can begin and may happen quickly.

Heat stroke symptoms include skin that is very hot to the touch and flushed (internal temperatures soar above 104 degrees Fahrenheit). Signs also include dry or sweaty skin, confusion and unconsciousness, rapid heartbeat and rapid respirations. This is a life threatening condition. If you witness someone suffering from heat stroke or if you feel you are experiencing heat exhaustion and cannot cool off, call 911 immediately. Move the injured person to a shady area; remove any extra clothing like jackets and second layers. Try to cool the person by continuous drenching with hose water or submerging the person’s legs and trunk in a tub with cold water and ice until emergency medical help arrives.

If someone is confused or unconscious, do not try to give them water or food. Also, check with neighbors and family members, especially the very young, the elderly, and/or people with medical concerns because they are all more susceptible to heat illness and heat-related death.

Death from heat is preventable. If you or someone you know needs relief from the heat, do not wait to ask. Ask before their health is affected by the heat.

If you have questions about heat emergencies or would like additional information, contact the Mariposa County Health Department at (209) 966-3689 or (800) 459-4466.

Be considerate of pets and animals

Because of the extreme heat, it is important that pet owners take care of their animals by taking proper precautions.

“Summertime is a wonderful time for family and friends to get together and enjoy themselves, often with a beloved pet,” says Dr. Steven Hansen, senior vice president of ASPCA Animal Health Services. “However, even the healthiest pets can suffer from dehydration, heat stroke and sunburn if they’re overexposed to the heat.”

Here are just some of the ways animal lovers can help ensure their pets have a safe summer: Visit the vet. A visit to the veterinarian for a spring or early summer check-up is a must. Make sure your pet is up-to-date on all necessary vaccinations. Pets should also be given a blood test for heartworm every year in the early spring. The deadly parasite is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito, and it is recommended that dogs and cats be on a monthly preventive medication year-round.

Keep cool. Dogs and cats can become dehydrated quickly, so give your pets plenty of water when it is hot outdoors. Also make sure your pet has a shady place to escape the sun, and when the temperature is very high, don’t let your dog linger on hot asphalt. Being so close the ground, your dog’s body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can burn. “Never leave your animals alone in a parked vehicle,” adds Dr. Louise Murray, Director of Medicine at the ASPCA’s Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital. “On a hot day, even with the windows open, a parked automobile can become a furnace in no time, and heatstroke can develop, which is potentially fatal.”

Know the symptoms. According to Dr. Murray, “the symptoms of overheating in pets include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, seizures, and an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees.” “Animals with flat faces, like pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively,” she says. “These pets, along with the elderly, the overweight, and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.”

Just say no. Summertime is the perfect time for a backyard barbeque or party, but please remember that the food and drink you serve your guests may be poisonous to pets. “Keep alcoholic beverages away from pets, as they can cause intoxication, depression, comas, or even death,” says Dr. Hansen. “Similarly, remember that the snacks you serve your friends should not be a treat for your pet; any change of diet, even for one meal, may give your dog or cat severe digestive ailments.” Avoid raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate and products with the sweetener xylitol.

Pest-free pets. Commonly-used flea and tick products, rodenticides (mouse and rat baits), insecticides, and herbicide lawn products can be harmful to cats and dogs if ingested, so keep them out of reach. While there are flea products that can be used safely on dogs, these same products can be deadly to cats, because of the presence of the chemical permethrin. Be sure to read directions on these products carefully. When walking your dog, steer clear of areas that you suspect have been sprayed with insecticides or herbicide lawn products. Keep citronella candles, oil products and insect coils out of pets’ reach as well.

Water safety is pet-friendly. Do not leave pets unsupervised around a pool, as not all dogs are good swimmers. Introduce your pets to water gradually and make sure pets wear flotation devices while on boats. Rinse your dog off after swimming to remove chlorine or salt from his fur, and try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals that could cause stomach upset.

Beware of “High Rise Syndrome.” “During warmer months, we see an increase in injured animals as a result of ‘High-Rise Syndrome,’ which occurs when pets fall out of windows or doors and are seriously or fatally injured,” says Dr. Murray. “Pet owners need to know that this is completely preventable if they take simple precautions.” Keep all unscreened windows or doors in your home closed and make sure adjustable screens are tightly secured.

No fireworks for Fido. Leave pets at home when you head out to Fourth of July celebrations, and never use fireworks around pets. Dr. Hansen explains, “While exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns or trauma to curious pets, even unused fireworks are hazardous. Many types of fireworks contain potentially toxic substances such as potassium nitrate, copper, chlorates, arsenic and other heavy metals.”

PG&E, California Independent Systems Operator asking residents to stay safe, prepare for heat, conserve energy

With temperatures expected to jump significantly statewide next week, PG&E and the California Independent Systems Operator are asking residents to stay safe, prepare for the heat, and conserve energy where possible by turning off appliances that are not in use. Here are some tips you can use to prepare you and your family for this sustained period of high temperatures.

Energy conservation

• Energy conservation measures help our state meet energy demand during heat events. • Small changes in your routine—such as shifting power consuming activities to the morning or after 7 p.m.—will help ease the load on California’s power grid, balance demand for electricity and help improve electric reliability on hot days. • In addition, conserving energy helps to reduce the need to purchase energy from older, less efficient “peaker” power plants, which may be brought online during periods of high demand. • By conserving energy, you’re saving money and helping the environment as well by reducing your carbon footprint.

Tips for cooling your home

• Set your air conditioner thermostat to 78 degrees or higher when you’re at home, health permitting, and 85 degrees when you’re away. • Three to five percent more energy is used for each degree the air conditioner is set below 78 degrees. • Use ceiling fans when at home, but remember to turn them off when you leave. Fans move air but they don’t cool it, so they waste energy if you leave them on when you are not at home. • Whole house fans are a different story. They can draw cooler air into the home and blow the hot air out that’s trapped in the attic, increasing energy efficiency. • Shut windows and draw the shades to keep in pre-cooled air from overnight and early morning. • Have your central cooling duct system checked for leaks. Up to 20 percent of cooled air can be lost through leaky or poorly insulated ducts. • Buy an ENERGY STAR® air conditioner if your air conditioner is ready to be replaced. It can reduce energy usage by up to 10 percent. • Avoid using an electric oven on hot days. Instead, cook on the stove, use a microwave oven, or grill outside.

Powering electronics, lighting and appliances

• Turn off and unplug electronics and appliances when they are not in use. Even when they are off, many electronics and appliances still use energy. • Swap out incandescent bulbs with more energy-efficient lighting choices. ENERGY STAR® qualified lighting not only uses less energy, it also produces about 75 percent less heat than incandescent lighting, so cooling bills will be reduced, too. • Clean the coils on your refrigerator and don’t set the temperature too low. The refrigerator should be kept between 38 degrees and 42 degrees, and the freezer between 0 degrees and 5 degrees. • Use cold water to wash full loads of laundry. Water heating takes up about 90 percent of energy used by clothes washers. Today’s detergents work great in cold water. Clean the lint from the clothes dryer after every load. • Use appliances and charge electronic devices in the morning or after 7 p.m. to reduce strain on the electric grid during extreme heat.

Tips for cooling your office or business

• Turn off all office equipment and lights every night and weekend. If you can’t turn off the whole computer, turn off the monitor, and the printer. • Use e-mail instead of sending memos and faxing documents. If appropriate, use laptop computers and inkjet printers they consume 90 percent less energy than standard desktop computers. • Electric lighting accounts for the largest percentage of all electricity used in United States commercial office buildings, that’s 26 percent • Retrofit T12 lights with magnetic ballasts to T8 lights with electronic ballasts. • Replace incandescent light lamps with compact fluorescent lamps. • Consider removing excess fluorescent lights and installing reflectors. Lighter colored walls need less light. • Install motion detectors to control lighting in frequently unoccupied areas, such as restrooms. • In the summer, HVAC accounts for 30-70 percent of the energy consumed by commercial buildings. • Set thermostats at 78 degrees for cooling in the summer and 68 degrees for heating in the winter. • Install electronic time clocks or setback-programmable thermostats to maximize efficiency. • Install locking covers on your thermostats to prevent employee tampering with temperature settings. • Regularly clean condenser coils, replace air filters, and check ducts and pipe insulation for damage. • Install ceiling fans.

Matt Johnson is Sports and Education Editor of the Mariposa Gazette and can be reached at matt@mariposagazette.com.

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