The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has issued a Cold Weather Alert for the Santa Clarita Valley, as temperatures on Tuesday night were expected to drop to near or below freezing in parts of the county.
The National Weather Service forecasts that temperatures within the SCV will be more temperate (a low of 38 degrees Fahrenheit), but also stated that wind chill temperatures could dip below freezing. The alert also includes the Antelope Valley (including Lancaster) and L.A. city mountains where the weather will most likely be at, or go below, 32 degrees.
The Health Department is asking residents to stay warm, but to do so in a safe manner. Dr. Muntu Davis, L.A. County health officer, said the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning goes up when the temperature goes down.
“Children, the elderly, and people with disabilities or special medical needs are especially vulnerable during cold weather. Extra precaution should be taken to ensure they don’t get too cold when they are outside,” wrote Davis in a prepared statement. “There are places where people can go to stay warm, such as shelters or other public facilities. We also want to remind people not to use stoves, barbecues or ovens to heat their homes due to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.”
The Health Department’s alert also gave symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning and what to do in the event that it does occur.
“Carbon monoxide poisoning can cause shortness of breath, headaches, muscle and joint pain, and nausea,” read the alert. “Exposure to high levels of carbon monoxide could lead to death within minutes. Those suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning should be taken outside, into fresh air, immediately, and should be taken to an emergency room for immediate medical treatment.”
Public Health is advising to bundle up by wearing extra layers (especially on one’s feet, hands, and head), to check in on neighbors or family/friends who are most at risk and to bring in pets that might normally spend their time outdoors overnight.
The Health Department included symptoms of hypothermia – a risk even for temperatures above freezing – which included shivering, fatigue, loss of coordination, and confusion/disorientation. Late symptoms may include no shivering, blue skin, dilated pupils, slowed pulse and breathing, and loss of consciousness.
To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning, do not use a stove, barbecues or ovens to warm someone experiencing hypothermia. It’s best to bring them to a warm area or near a gas or electric approved heater or fireplace.
Winter shelters have been set up by the L.A. Homeless Services Authority. Locations and transportation options can be found at www.lahsa.org or by calling 2-1-1.
“Residents and business owners, including people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs, may also call 2-1-1 or visit www.211la.org for emergency preparedness information and other referral services 24 hours a day and seven days a week,” read the alert. “For the deaf and hard of hearing, call the TDD line at 1-800-660-4026.”
The Cold Weather Alert will remain in effect in the SCV until Wednesday night.