With temperatures soaring to near triple-digit territory in Southern California and rising above normal on the Westside, emergency physicians at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center and Orthopaedic Hospital encourage residents to take precautions to prevent heat exhaustion and other heat-related illnesses.

Dr. Wally Ghurabi, medical director of the hospital’s Nethercutt Emergency Center, offers these tips to help residents beat the heat:

• Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, before you become thirsty.

• Consume caffeinated beverages in moderation because they can hasten dehydration.

• Curtail outdoor activities or schedule them early in the morning or later in the afternoon, when the weather tends to be cooler. When going outdoors, wear sunscreen, sunglasses and hats.

• If you want to exercise, do so in moderation and choose the “cooler” option. For example, work out at an air-conditioned gym rather than jogging outdoors.

• Avoid poorly ventilated buildings and places, if possible. Seniors should try to remain in air-conditioned buildings.

• Wear light-colored clothes and lightweight, breathable fabrics, such as cotton and linen.

• Use fans to cool off warm households and cook with your microwave, instead of your stove or oven.

• Never leave children or pets locked inside cars, even for brief periods of time or with the windows partially rolled down!

Ghurabi said that seniors, young children and those with chronic health problems are the most susceptible to heat-related illnesses and require extra precautions.

Gov. Schwarzenegger released a statement Tuesday warning Californians to take precautions and prepare for increased temperatures through the week.

According to the National Weather Service, temperatures in and around Santa Monica on Tuesday reached into the low 80s, with temperatures in the upper 80s inland and the lower to mid 90s in the hills.

“This week’s rising temperatures should remind everyone to prepare for California’s summer heat waves,” the governor said. “By following simple steps such as drinking an adequate amount of water, staying indoors during the hottest times of the day and pacing yourself when outside, we can all keep cool and safely enjoy the outdoors during hot weather. I have directed my administration to ensure that the state stands ready to assist local governments in the event this hot weather continues.”

Additional tips on preparing for heat-related emergencies are available on the following web sites:

• California Emergency Management Agency: www.calema.ca.gov

• California Department of Public Health (CDPH):www.cdph.ca.gov

• California Division of Occupational Safety and Health: www.dir.ca.gov/HeatIllnessInfo