WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: California launches “Heat Ready CA” campaign to help protect communities from extreme heat, which is the deadliest form of climate-driven extreme weather.
SACRAMENTO – As California experiences more frequent and severe heat waves driven by the climate crisis, Governor Gavin Newsom today launched Heat Ready CA (HeatReadyCA.com), one of the nation’s first statewide multi-ethnic awareness and education campaigns designed to keep Californians safe during extreme heat.
The two-year $20 million campaign focuses on heat-sensitive groups at highest risk, including those 65 years of age or older, workers, and individuals with chronic illness, disabilities or who are pregnant. The campaign is part of the Governor’s Extreme Heat Action Plan, which is backed by more than $400 million, to guide the state’s response to heatwaves, ensuring California is reaching vulnerable communities, protecting frontline workers and helping communities stand up cooling centers.
“The impacts of climate change have never been more clear – the hots continue to get hotter in our state and across the West putting millions of Californians at risk,” said Governor Newsom. “California is launching Heat Ready CA as another tool in the state’s arsenal to protect people from extreme heat. We’re asking everyone to stay alert to changing weather and take the necessary steps to keep themselves and their families safer from deadly heatwaves.”
Today’s launch comes as much of California and the southwestern U.S. are expected to experience extreme heat that the National Weather Service has said will “rival some of the worst heat waves this area has ever seen.” California is expected to move into Phase II of its Extreme Temperature Response Plan today, which calls for increased coordination among state agencies and local partners. Excessive heat watches and warnings are in effect across the southern half of the state, with additional watches, warnings, and advisories possible farther north, including the San Joaquin Valley. The hottest temperatures are currently forecast for Wednesday through Sunday.
“Heat-related illnesses such as dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, as well as respiratory problems, are among the potentially dangerous effects of extreme heat,” said California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. “But as with earthquakes, floods or other natural weather events, Californians can better protect themselves and others with a few simple tips.”
Californians are encouraged to follow these tips to stay safe during extreme heat events:
- Stay cool. Close shades, windows and blinds. Set air conditioners between 75 and 80 degrees. If air-conditioning isn’t available, find a local cooling center or other air-conditioned public space (libraries, shopping malls, community centers, etc.). Try to stay indoors and wear loose, light-colored, lightweight clothing. While spending time in the water is refreshing on hot summer days, many California rivers are running faster, while lakes are deeper and colder than they’ve been in recent years. This makes them more dangerous than normal, even for strong swimmers.
- Stay hydrated. Drink at least 2 cups of water every hour even if you’re not feeling thirsty. Avoid alcoholic or caffeinated drinks.
- Look after each other. Check in on friends and family, especially elderly relatives or neighbors. Call 911 if there are signs of high fever (103°F or higher) or in case of other emergencies.
Scientists project that all of California will be impacted in the years and decades to come by higher average temperatures and more frequent and life-threatening heat waves, disproportionately impacting the most vulnerable communities. Californians can learn more about these heat projections and what they mean for their community by using the California Heat Assessment Tool. Californians can find their community’s heat risk level by using the National Weather Service’s HeatRisk Prototype or by following local weather forecasts. Californians can find their local cooling centers here.
Heat Ready CA is a public awareness and outreach campaign led by the Governor’s Office of Community Partnerships and Strategic Communications (OCPSC), a newly established office that manages the state’s highest priority public engagement efforts. Through integrated outreach, advertising, social media and influencer engagement, the campaign is meeting people where they are through a culturally responsive approach. Heat Ready CA is engaging trusted messengers including multiethnic community-based organizations, ethnic media, meteorologists and other partners statewide.
More than 100 community based organizations form the trusted messenger network that will be doing outreach in every California county in over 30 languages. Through door-to-door canvassing, phone banking, community activations and other outreach efforts, these organizations will help California’s most vulnerable communities better prepare for extreme heat.
The campaign’s website is available in English at HeatReadyCA.com, in Spanish at CuidateDelCalorCA.com, and soon in 10 Asian languages. The website offers tips and resources for Californians, including people most vulnerable to heat-related health concerns, such as older adults, people with disabilities and chronic conditions, pregnant people, young children, urban residents, and those without easy access to air conditioning or natural shade, among others.