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By: Nathaniel Greene, Community & Culture Reporter

As California faces a summer of soaring temperatures and heightened fire risks, experts gathered to share essential safety tips to protect the public during these extreme conditions. A July 2 briefing, presented by Listos California in collaboration with Ethnic Media Services and California Black Media, focused on preparedness and safety measures for heatwaves, wildfires, and water dangers.

 

Heat Safety: An Urgent Priority

Dr. Rita Nguyen, Assistant Health Officer for the State of California, emphasized the deadly nature of heatwaves.

“Heat waves such as this one kill more people directly than any other weather-related hazard,” she stated.

Dr. Nguyen highlighted the risks to vulnerable groups, including the unhoused, outdoor workers, older adults, pregnant individuals, and those with chronic health conditions.

“Anyone can be a victim of life-threatening heatstroke,” she warned. “It’s important to stay hydrated, stay cool, and stay informed.”

Dr. Nguyen detailed the symptoms of heat-related illnesses, stressing the importance of recognizing early signs such as heavy sweating, muscle cramps, weakness, and nausea.

“The most worrisome symptoms are if people are getting confused or passing out or vomiting. Seek medical attention right away,” she urged.

Water Safety: Life Jackets are Essential

Captain Andrew Ramos of the Sacramento Fire Department, who leads the Cal OES Swift Water Rescue Team 7, underscored the dangers posed by California’s rivers and lakes.

“The bodies of water now are colder and deeper and faster than normal,” he cautioned.

Ramos also provided practical advice for those who find themselves in trouble in the water.

“If you do fall in, don’t panic. Breathe slowly, stay calm, kick off heavy shoes, and make your way to the sides of the stream,” he advised. He reminded the public to have a safety plan and to ensure that everyone, especially children, is wearing a properly fastened life jacket.

“In my 30-plus years, I’ve never saved a person wearing a life vest,” he said.

Workplace Safety: Rights and Regulations

Charlene Gloriani from Cal/OSHA highlighted the protections in place for workers during extreme heat.

“Employees have rights to access to water, shade, and rest,” she stated.

Gloriani went on to outline the requirements for employers, including the provision of cool-down rest periods and the implementation of heat illness prevention plans.

“When temperatures exceed 95 degrees, a buddy system should be in place, and employees must be monitored for signs of heat illness,” she added.

Weather Outlook: Prolonged Heat Wave

David Lawrence from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provided an overview of the heat wave expected to grip California.

“We’re just at the beginning stages of what looks to be a fairly long duration heat event across much of the state,” he explained. Lawrence warned of temperatures reaching between 100 to 115 degrees in many interior areas, with little relief expected from overnight lows.

“The longevity of this particular event is what we’re most concerned with,” Lawrence said. “We do have excessive heat warnings for a large majority of the state of California.”

Resources and Preparedness

Sonya Harris, Senior Advisor for Listos California, highlighted the resources available through the Summer of Safety Package, Stay Cool California.

“We know that extreme weather events are creating a complex environment for California,” she noted. Harris urged Californians to stay informed through local emergency alerts and to utilize the preparedness materials provided by Listos California.

Regina Brown Wilson, Executive Director of California Black Media and moderator of the briefing, reinforced the importance of community support and vigilance.

“It’s really important for Californians to understand how deadly heat can be for individuals who are isolated and the importance of checking in on your coworkers and older Californians,” she said.

As California braces for a challenging summer, the experts’ collective message was clear: stay prepared, stay informed, and look out for one another. With the right precautions, Californians can navigate the extreme conditions safely and protect the most vulnerable among them.

For more information on preparedness and safety resources, visit Listos California’s resource hub at listoscalifornia.org.