Firefighters respond to high number of medical emergencies amid heat wave

Chris Johnson, center, takes a drink of water as she joins Spencer Smith, left, and Harry Johnson in the cooling center at the Stevenson Ranch Library in Stevenson Ranch on Saturday, September 05, 2020. Dan Watson/The Signal
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As triple-digit temperatures return to the Santa Clarita Valley, fire personnel have seen an increase in calls over the holiday weekend, responding to nearly 50 in the last 24 hours.

Fire personnel responded to 47 medical emergency calls in 24 hours, many of which were heat-related, fire officials said. 

“It’s very very hot out, and today’s one of the hottest days,” Los Angeles County Fire Department Supervisor Cheryl Sims said. “We’re getting a lot of heat-related calls. People need to stay hydrated.”

The Stevenson Ranch Library, located at 25950 The Old Road, has reopened as a cooling center from noon to 6 p.m., to residents to get some free relief from the heat. 

California’s power grid operators have also issued a statewide Flex Alert, calling for voluntary electricity conservation through Wednesday each day during peak hours of 3-9 p.m., when energy demand is expected to be the highest.

The Flex Alert is in place to prevent a Stage 3 emergency, or rolling blackouts across the state, with Southern California Edison officials identifying parts of Valencia as areas that may experience an outage. 

Public Health has also issued an extreme heat advisory, offers tips for staying cool:

  • Drink plenty of water and keep hydrated throughout the day.
  • If you must go out, plan your day to avoid going out during the hottest hours of the day and wear sunscreen. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothes, and bring a hat or umbrella with you.
  • Cars get very hot, so never leave children or pets in cars and call 911 if you see a child or pet in a car alone.
  • Beware of heat-related illness, such as heat stroke, and call 911 if you see the following symptoms: high body temperature, vomiting, and pale and clammy skin.
  • Check on those at risk, including those who are sick, older adults, pregnant women and children, along with those who live alone.
  • Avoid strenuous workouts or wearing face coverings or masks not intended for athletic purposes and avoid contact with others while you work out.
  • Visit Edison’s website or contact them by phone to determine if you are scheduled for a rolling power outage.

During peak hours, the Flex Alert, issued by the California Independent System Operator, or CAISO, urges consumers to:

  • Set your thermostat to 78 degrees or higher.
  • Refrain from using major appliances.
  • Turn off unnecessary lights and appliances.
  • Unplug unused electrical devices.
  • Close blinds and drapes.
  • Use fans when possible. 
  • Limit the time the refrigerator door is open.

Kathy Hoxsie, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service, said the heat is set to stay in place until Tuesday, when the SCV will see a bit of relief from the triple-digit temperatures. 

“We’re expecting (Sunday) to be the hottest day, and tomorrow won’t be much better, just a degree or two lower,” Hoxsie said. 

To obtain a list of all cooling center locations, visit ready.lacounty.gov/heat or call 211. For more information on how to conserve energy, visit flexalert.org.

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