California Governor Activates Heat Wave Response

SACRAMENTO, California, August 30, 2007 (ENS) - Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has directed California's Office of Emergency Services and the California Department of Public Health to begin utilizing their heat response plans as a result of heat advisories and forecasted extreme temperatures throughout portions of the San Joaquin Valley, Los Angeles County and South Eastern California over the next seven days.

State cooling centers will be open in eight counties and the Office of Emergency Services has established a toll free number for the public to get information on how to protect themselves from the hot weather through the Labor Day weekend, including the locations of open cooling centers, most of them at State Fairgrounds. Call 1-877-435-7021 Voice or 1-800-822-6268 TTY.

"Once again we must act to help those around us that are most vulnerable to the extreme heat, especially the elderly and others at risk," said Governor Schwarzenegger. "I urge all Californians to take these heat forecasts seriously as they enjoy their time with friends and family over this Labor Day weekend."

The National Weather Service has issued heat advisories for Los Angeles, Kern, Kings, Madera, Tulare and Fresno counties and is forecasting above normal heat in Riverside and Imperial counties. Throughout the eight counties, temperatures are expected to be 10 degrees above normal.

Also, the California Independent System Operator charged with managing the electricity grid in California, issued a "Flex Alert" for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, asking the public to conserve energy.

The public answered the conservation call today, CAISO said. "Today’s consumer response to conservation requests was tremendous with more than 1,000 megawatts of forecast usage statewide off-loaded from the grid, helping avoid any electrical emergencies."

Last night, Office of Emergency Services directed the California Department of Food and Agriculture to open cooling centers at State fairground facilities today to augment those that have already been opened by local officials.

"We stand ready to mobilize whatever additional resources are necessary to ensure local officials get the help and support they need in protecting their residents from the severe heat," said OES Director Henry Renteria.

The California Department of Public Health, CDPH, issued a health alert to affected local public health offices last night as well, directing them to activate their heat response plans, particularly those actions to protect vulnerable individuals. CDPH's Licensing and Certification District Offices will also be monitoring heat impacts at long term care facilities in the impacted counties.

"Prolonged exposure to extremely high temperatures can be very dangerous, particularly for infants, young children, seniors and people with underlying health problems," said Dr. Mark Horton, director of the Department of Public Health. "During this period of extreme heat, I urge Californians to drink plenty of liquids, stay cool in an air-conditioned place, wear light-weight clothing and check on friends and family members who are elderly or have a health condition."

Wildfires are a constant threat, the governor said. "In the last day, more than 20 wildfires across the state have flared up," he said, asking people not to use lawn mowers to cut weeds, which can generate sparks and ignite vegetation and to avoid driving vehicles in dry grass or weeds which also can generate sparks and start fires.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2007. All rights reserved.