This weekend the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area will see record temperatures with excessive heat warnings of 105°F or higher being issued to both the Antelope and Santa Clarita Valleys together with the San Gabriel Mountains.
The heat event which will begin Friday and will continue through Monday will “rival some of the worst heat waves this area has ever seen” according to the National Weather Service.
Sure, a dip in the cool blue waters of the Pacific Ocean will offer some relief as no doubt many land-locked Los Angelinos will make a weekend pilgrimage to the oceanfront Eden that is sunny Santa Monica, but that creates a different set of problems.
Dr. Anu Seshadri, lead physician at UCLA Century City, advises that you stay in the shade during the sun’s peak hours, typically between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and she also recommends that you wear a sun protection factor (SPF) of 30 or higher because sun damage occurs even on cloudy days.
“You should choose something that says ‘broad-spectrum sunscreen’ and be mindful of anything that you might be allergic to, say any scented sunscreen. Sprays tend to be easier to reapply as well, but use a gel, serum or cream for your face,” Seshadri says, adding, “You should reapply every two hours, especially if you’ve been in the water.”
Finally, remember to cover up with suitable, comfortable clothing, especially a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses. Moreover, in addition to liberally applying lashings of sun lotion, if you’re driving either to or from Santa Monica this weekend, the hot weather can also play havoc on your road trip.
According to Doug Shupe, Los Angeles-based spokesperson for the AAA, heatstroke is actually the leading cause of non crash vehicle fatalities and of course, extreme heat can push a vehicle beyond its breaking point.
“You need to inspect your vehicles before those road trips. You want to make sure that your battery is prepared for the warmer temperatures. Summer heat can have a more negative impact on your battery than freezing winter temperatures. Heat and vibration are a battery’s worst enemies, because they lead to internal breakdown and eventual failure,” Shupe says.
He stresses that in the sort of temperatures that we’re expecting this weekend to treat even short to medium distance car journeys like long road trips and plan accordingly. Check tire pressures and make sure all fluids in the car are topped up.
“It’s important to make sure that your engine is cool, make sure that your cooling systems are in good shape and ensure that your coolant levels are filled up properly. So things like motor oil transmission fluid, power steering fluid, brake fluid, any fluids that need to be topped off and make sure that you’re using the fluid that’s specified in your vehicle owner manual,” Shupe says.
And whatever you do, do not leave a child or a pet in a vehicle that itself is in direct sunlight. “The inside of a car that’s in sunlight can exceed 130°F and children are particularly susceptible to heat stroke because their bodies heat up three to five times faster than an adult’s body,” Shupe says, adding, “A cracked window is simply not good enough.”
However, even at home, you need to take into account the considerations of others, in particular, your pets. “It’s important to remember that the hot temperatures affect our pets and can turn serious very quickly,” says Elizabeth Noble, Chair of the Santa Monica Animal Shelter.
“Make sure that your pet has access to lots of fresh, cool water. I like to place several water bowls out in different places around the apartment for my cat during the summer months to make sure she is drinking enough water,” Noble says.
“Not everyone has AC, so it really helps to have a bowl or a bucket of cold ice water in front of a fan, it really makes a difference in helping keep the place cool. And never, ever leave your pet unattended in a vehicle.”
She also stresses that the temperature of sidewalks or any tarmac can get extremely hot and can easily burn your pet’s paws. “Refrain from taking your dog with you on a run or a hike on these hot summer days,” Noble says, adding, “Try to time your walk to when the temperature is not so hot, so in the morning or later in the day and maybe even consider investing in some booties for your dog’s paws.”
Beware of and know what to do for heat-related illness, such as heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Call 911 right away if you see these symptoms: high body temperature, vomiting, dizziness, confusion, and hot, red, dry, or damp skin. Heat stroke is a medical emergency. Also, call 911 if you see a child or pet in a car alone, regardless of how little or how much the window may be opened.