Caution urged as temperatures forecast to hit 100-plus

By Corey Pride / Cpride@losbanosenterprise.comJune 8, 2013 

Avoiding the heat will be difficult, as record and near-record temperatures are forecast for the weekend.

Saturday's high is expected to reach 106 degrees, with the previous record being set at 104 in 1955, said Jim Andersen, a National Weather Service forecaster in the Hanford office. He said the temperature today is projected to hit 102 degrees, just shy of the record of 104 degrees that has stood since 1977 in Los Banos.

Sunday, Andersen said, the temperature will be a lower at 98 degrees.

"Cooler is relative, when you get in the upper 90s. It can start to become dangerous," Anderson said.

He said residents who do not have air conditioners should seek shelter in places like movie theaters, stores and coffee shops.

"People react differently to the heat but, in general, I would tell people to stay hydrated and don't exert yourself during the hottest part of the day," he said.

The city is reminding the public that the Los Banos Community Center, at 645 Seventh St., will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday. Temperatures in Los Banos reach their highest in the late afternoon and early evening hours, after or during the time the community center closes, depending on the day.

Fire Chief Chet Guintini said the gymnasium at the community center typically stays open later than the rest of the facility, giving residents a chance to be indoors until 8 or 9 p.m.

Guintini said the community center is not open to the public through the night as a cooling center unless temperatures reach 105 degrees or higher for a "sustained period of time" and a minimum nighttime temperature of 80 degrees is reached. He said nighttime temperatures this weekend are expected to dip into the 70s.

"Obviously, you're going to want to hydrate," said Merced City Fire Chief Mike McLaughlin. "Drink plenty of water because by the time you're thirsty, you're already dehydrated. If you have things you need to do outside, you want to do them early in the day.

"Stay out of the sun. Plan your work around the heat. You don't want to plan on pouring concrete on Saturday afternoon. Stay out of the heat. Stay indoors as much as possible."

As the heat rises, air quality is also a concern.

"We saw some of our levels go up last weekend with the rise in temperatures," said Heather Heinks, who is an outreach communication supervisor for the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.

"As heat rises, we encourage people to change their behavior all summer long. It's best if people reduce idling (in cars), park at restaurants and go inside, use public transportation, anything you can do to help reduce the emissions that go into the environment is helpful."

For people with asthma and other respiratory issues, Heinks encourages them to get familiar with the Realtime Air Advisory Network that can be found online at www.valleyair.org.

"People can check the air quality at the hour from their computer or iPhone," Heinks said. "They can see what level it is at and that will help frame their decision whether to take that walk now or wait for later."

For people trying to beat the heat by swimming in local lakes, rivers or other bodies of water, McLaughlin urges people take the necessary precautions.

"Water safety is always huge," he said. "The irrigation canals and Bear Creek are dangerous waterways. There are buried obstructions that could truly be dangerous. People should stay out of canals because they are moving water and it's moving faster than it appears.

"It doesn't take long for something bad to happen," he said. "You want to keep children within sight at all times. If the child is not a strong swimmer, than you want to use a flotation device, lifejackets, at all times to be safe."

The Merced Sun-Star contributed to this report.


Safety Tips

Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.

Take frequent breaks if you must work outdoors.

Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.

Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.

Never leave children or pets alone in enclosed vehicles.

-- American Red Cross

The Merced Sun-Star contributed to this report.

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