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How to stay cool during Northern California's heatwave

KCRA Sacramento logo KCRA Sacramento 6/18/2021
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As temperatures heat up, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat strokes threaten those exposed. But ignoring your symptoms could put you at risk for a variety of heat-related illnesses.

"Headache, nausea, weakness — if that goes untreated and unremedied and someone were to remain out in the heat and ignore those early signs, they could progress to the more serious and life-threatening condition of heatstroke," said Dr. Sheri Belafsky, director of the Medical Surveillance Program in the Department of Public Health Sciences at UC Davis

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Something that was a close call for Abel Christopher Torres, Jr. on Wednesday, when he was working on a highway.

"If it wasn't for Derek here, he told me to go sit inside the cool truck to collect myself. And it wasn't until after I cooled down where I thought, 'Oh wow, maybe I was feeling heat exhaustion,'" Torres said. He adds that it's easy to lose track of your body temperature while working.

If you're working outdoors, you can stay cool by:

  • Drinking water before you're thirsty. Thirst is often the first sign of dehydration.
  • Acclimate yourself to the heat. "I would really caution someone if they're starting new work outdoors to be aware that it does take several weeks to acclimate to those higher temperatures, so they're going to require more rest and more fluids at the beginning," adds Belafsky.
  • Skip the caffeine.
  • Exercise indoors or during the coolest parts of the day.
  • Wear breathable fabrics.
  • Take regular timeouts for outdoor activities.
  • Know your personal risk.

Cal/OSHA's heat illness prevention standard mandates that when temperatures reach 95 degrees, employers must also provide one quart of water per hour through a whole shift, give access to shade and give workers 10-minute breaks every hour.

A tip that Torres, Jr. already follows. "We try to keep the generators on for the AC as much as possible throughout the day and find proper zones to set up our shade tents and stuff like that. We'll take a few extra 15 minutes every few hours to just check on everyone and make sure that everyone cools down," he said.

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