Jun 4, 2024

Ahead of first major heat wave of the year, here’s how California is keeping people safe

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What you need to know: With extreme heat expected Tuesday through Thursday as we enter the summer season, California is working to keep people safe with outreach efforts, safety resources, and state action.

SACRAMENTO – With a heatwave impacting much of inland California this week, Governor Gavin Newsom today highlighted the state’s continued preparedness and response efforts and urged Californians to take steps to protect themselves from extreme heat.

Beginning today, excessive heat watches and warnings will be in place. According to the National Weather Service (NWS), temperatures in the Central Valley may reach up to 105 degrees, with Death Valley National Park likely reaching 118-121 degrees. 

Given this extreme weather, the state is entering phase 2 of its Extreme Temperature Response Plan, which is triggered by NWS predictions of excessive heat activity and moves the state into action to coordinate an all-hands response by the state government.

Extreme heat can be deadly. Together, let’s do everything we can to stay safe. The state is taking action to protect and inform communities and Californians should take steps now to protect themselves from the heat. Stay cool, stay hydrated, and stay connected.

Governor Gavin Newsom

As the changing climate is making heat waves more intense and frequent, extreme heat kills more Americans each year than any other extreme weather events, including wildfires, droughts, and floods. 

Ahead of Memorial Day Weekend, Governor Newsom announced the launch of ready.ca.gov – a new one-stop shop for Californians to prepare for emergencies and extreme weather. The new website is part of Listos California, which is a state effort that connects communities with in-language resources before, during and after emergencies. The Governor also visited the California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) to receive updates on the administration’s preparedness for summer and peak wildfire season.

State agency actions

State efforts to prepare Californians for the increased temperatures include:

Cal OES is coordinating with local governments and emergency managers on any regional needs. A current list of local cooling centers open by county can be found here. Through Listos California, Cal OES is deploying in-language preparedness messaging to California’s most impacted communities and those who may be most at risk during extreme temperatures, including those 65 years of age or older; individuals with chronic illness, disabilities or who are pregnant. In addition, through the state’s Priority Populations Task Force, Cal OES convenes over 20 agencies to coordinate state resources, identify and address unmet needs, and ensure comprehensive preparedness and response in support of Californians at greatest risk. 

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) is also reminding employers to protect workers from heat illness during high temperatures by providing water, rest, shade and training. Field inspectors are conducting targeted inspections at worksites where workers are most vulnerable to heat illness including in agriculture and construction. Details on heat illness prevention requirements and training materials are available online at 99calor.org. Cal/OSHA’s heat illness prevention standard applies to all outdoor worksites.

The Government Operations Agency has coordinated messaging to all state employees on increased temperature preparedness and worked with building managers to reiterate state efficiencies during warmer days. 

The California Natural Resources Agency and state climate partners are putting actions in motion to increase climate resilience and address longer-term impacts of climate change and extreme heat events through the Extreme Heat Action Plan to Build Community Resilience. Efforts include resources for vulnerable and underserved communities, investments in shading communities through green schoolyards and urban forestry initiatives, and putting nature-based solutions to work to cool buildings and infrastructure.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has created a Heat & Summer Safety toolkit to provide resources and communication tools that can be shared, including the difference between heat exhaustion and heat stroke. CDPH also develops heat guidance for schools, local health jurisdictions, and other community service providers to protect Californians, particularly heat-vulnerable populations like children, students, older adults, the unhoused, outdoor workers, and those with existing health conditions.

A graphic with a map of california and white lettering that says: Californians: get prepared for extreme heat

How you can stay safer from extreme heat

Stay cool (During the hottest times of the day): 

  • Those without air conditioning should check with their city or county for cooling centers or visit public locations such as a library or shopping mall.
  • Avoid physical exertion or exercising outdoors.
  • Wear lightweight, light colored, loose clothing, hats, sunglasses and sunscreen.

Stay hydrated:  

  • Drink plenty of fluids, especially water, even when not thirsty; drink sports drinks (in moderation with water) to help replace electrolytes lost during exercise.
  • Avoid sugary, alcoholic, and very cold drinks.
  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.

Stay connected:

  • Monitor those at high risk of heat-related illness including infants and young children; people 65 years of age or older; individuals with chronic illness, disabilities or who are pregnant.
  • Californians are also encouraged to check on their neighbors – call or visit vulnerable people, and offer to pick up groceries, medication, and other necessities. Older adults, young children and babies, people with chronic medical conditions and those who are pregnant are most vulnerable.
  • Use a buddy system when working in the heat.

Stay informed: 

  • Check the local news for weather forecasts, extreme heat alerts, and cooling centers.

Stay safe outdoors: 

Warm summer weather is causing continued snow melt from winter’s record snowpack, resulting in colder and faster water that continues today. Remember to always be safe around the water:

  • Make sure you and your loved ones wear properly fitting, U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets. Several public and private entities make life jackets available to the public on a loan basis.
  • Always supervise children by appointing a designated “water watcher.”
  • Know your limits. Swimming in a lake, ocean or river is different than swimming in a pool.
  • If someone is in distress, seek help from a lifeguard or call 9-1-1 if one is not available.