October 3, 2023

Using out warmth wave at household? Comply with these guidelines to amazing off

Temperatures are expected to climb to 108 degrees or higher this weekend, and that’s dangerous territory for one in four Californians who live without air conditioning in their homes.

Physicians, materials engineers and climate change experts urged Sacramento-area residents to head to a mall, cooling center or other air-conditioned spaces if they don’t have access to a cooling unit at home, but if you choose to ignore this advice or are unable to leave your home, they offered up some tips aimed at keeping you cool and healthy.

“The gold standard … is really getting to an air-conditioned space,” said Dr. Sheri Belafsky, a UC Davis Health physician who sits on the board of the Western Occupational and Environmental Medical Association. “People in urban areas … can be particularly impacted by high heat, or if they’re an apartment dweller, they really don’t have very good ventilation.”

Fatalities can happen, Belafsky said, even when people, particularly the elderly, use small portable fans.

Like Belafsky, engineering professor David Vernon wouldn’t discuss other options for staying cool until he stressed that the best recommendation he could give was that people get to an air-conditioned public space.

“Houses in direct sun with little or no insulation can get hotter than the outdoor air temperature,” said Vernon. “In many places in California the night time outdoor temperature is significantly lower so opening windows at night and closing them in the morning can help cool off the house for the morning. In the evening the house may retain heat longer, so going outside in the evening can help.”

Tents can become extremely hot and create life-threatening conditions, said Moiz Mir, a spokesperson for ClimatePlan, because they are often set up on or near concrete or asphalt surfaces that absorb heat and re-emit it at extreme levels on hot days.

In a Twitter post Thursday, the Sacramento Homeless Union reported that its staff had measured temperatures of 169.4 in an outside patio area surrounded by trees. “Imagine the direct asphalt in areas like Del Paso Heights and south Sacramento,” the organization tweeted.

Secrets to surviving heat wave without AC

If you don’t have air-conditioning but want to ride out the heat at home or close to it, both Belafsky and Vernon said that shade trees offer perhaps the least expensive alternative.

“Go outside in the shade and put water on your clothes,” Vernon said, “Wearing a damp shirt when outside will lower the air temperature that your body experiences from the typical thermometer-measured temperature.”

A shower or bath in cold water also can be refreshing way to beat the extreme heat.

Definitely avoid vigorous physical activity to reduce the heat stress on your body, said Vernon, who co-directs the Engineering, Energy and Efficiency Institute and Western Cooling Efficiency Center at the University of California, Davis.

Belafsky also recommended wearing lightweight clothing and to make a point of drinking water before you are thirsty. Be ware, she said, that caffeinated drinks can dehydrate your body.

Thirst is your body’s first signal that you are dehydrated, she said. In extreme heat, you can progress from dehydration to heat exhaustion and even to heat stroke.

It’s possible for even a young, healthy person to experience heat stress under these conditions. The Sacramento region hasn’t had many 100-plus degree days yet this year, so many people may not have acclimated to this level of extreme heat. You see healthy, young athletes getting cramps, experiencing headaches and even fainting at outdoor practices because they haven’t acclimated to the heat.

Similarly, friends or family visiting the region also may not be equipped to weather the heat along with locals, she said.

Where to find a cooling center in Sacramento area

A break from the heat, even for an hour or two, can help the body to recover and tolerate more heat exposure, Vernon said. If you decide you can’t handle the heat, cities, counties and nonprofits around the Sacramento region have set up places where you can find respite:

Cooling shelters and daytime respite centers will be open throughout the city and county of Sacramento. Find a map of locations and directions on how to get a free ride to the sites from Sacramento Regional Transit at www.211sacramento.org/211/severe-weather-spaces/.

Placer County will open its Foresthill Library, 24580 Main St. in Foresthill; Colfax Library, 10 W Church St.; and Rocklin Library, 4890 Granite Drive, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and 1-7 p.m. Sunday. To find other cool spots in Placer and Nevada counties, go to 211connectingpoint.org/extreme-heat-resources/ for help.

The Yolo County Office of Emergency Services has a link to a map showing residents where they can go to cool off. Look under “current emergencies and incidents” on the OES web page, and you’ll find a collection of swimming pools, library branches and more.

In El Dorado County, all libraries are designated as cooling centers.

If you have to travel on cool days, Alchemist Community Development Corp. coordinates and maintains pop-up cooling stations in Sacramento’s heat islands. Find a map of locations at alchemistcdc.org/cooling/.

The California Office of Emergency Services maintains a link to many counties’ designated cooling centers at www.caloes.ca.gov/cal-oes/active-incidents/cooling-centers/.

This tale was initially printed July 14, 2023, 9:58 AM.

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Cathie Anderson handles wellbeing treatment for The Bee. Increasing up, her blue-collar mothers and fathers paid out of pocket for treatment. She joined The Bee in 2002, with roles together with company columnist and features editor. She formerly labored at papers which includes the Dallas Morning Information, Detroit Information and Austin American-Statesman.