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State Health Officer Warns of the Dangers of Excessive Heat

SACRAMENTO – California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director and State Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith is reminding everyone to stay cool and hydrated as temperatures around the state continue to climb.
An excessive heat warning will be in effect for areas of the state through Friday morning.
“California residents need to prepare themselves for what’s looking like a very hot, dry summer,” Dr. Smith said. “July and August are generally the hottest months of the summer season and we are already seeing very high temperatures. It is important that everyone stay cool, stay hydrated, stay inside and take other precautions to prevent heat-related illness.”
Extreme heat poses a substantial health risk, especially for vulnerable populations including young children, the elderly, those with chronic diseases or disabilities, pregnant women and people who are socially isolated. Heat-related illness includes: cramps, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and death. Warning signs of heat-related illnesses may include heavy sweating, muscle cramps, weakness, headache and nausea. Vomiting, paleness, tiredness and dizziness can also be indicators of heat-related illness.
In areas where air quality is poor, people with heart disease, asthma or other respiratory diseases should reduce or eliminate their outdoor activities. Summer schools and programs with children who have sensitive conditions, including heart disease, asthma and other respiratory diseases, should conduct activities indoors as much as possible.
Smith offers the following tips to stay safe during this period of excessive heat:
  • Drink plenty of water or juice, even if you are not thirsty. Avoid alcohol.
  • If you don’t have air conditioning, visit a cooling center or a public place with air conditioning (such as a shopping mall or library) to cool off for a few hours each day.
  • Avoid outdoor physical exertion during the hottest parts of the day. Reduce exposure to the sun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when UV rays are strongest, and keep physical activities to a minimum during that time.
  • Wear a wide-brimmed hat to cover the face and neck, wear loose-fitting clothing to keep cool and to protect your skin from the sun
  • Regularly check on any elderly relatives or friends who live alone. Many may be on medications which increase likelihood of dehydration.
  • To prevent overheating, use cool compresses, misting, showers and baths. Get medical attention if you experience a rapid, strong pulse, you feel delirious or have a body temperature above 102 degrees.
  • Never leave infants, children, elderly or pets in a parked car. It can take as little as 10 minutes for the temperature inside a car to rise to levels that can kill.
  • Wear sunglasses that provide 100 percent UVA and UVB protection. Chronic exposure to the sun can cause cataracts.
Liberally apply sunscreen (at least SPF 15) 15 minutes before venturing outdoors and re-apply at least every two hours – sunscreen may reduce the risk of skin cancer, the number one cancer affecting Californians.
Watch CDPH’s video message from Dr. Smith on extreme heat warning signs and tips.

California Steamin’

heathwarning_mgn_onlineIf there is any season California shines best, it has to be summer. We have the beaches, the festivals,the mountain trails, and the perfect weather. However, the California summers can also be deadly. Heat waves, on average, have claimed more lives than other natural disasters such as floods, tornadoes, and even earthquakes. The worst single heat wave event in California occurred in 1955, when an 8-day heat wave resulted in 946 deaths. The heat wave in July 2006 additionally caused the death of 140 people over a 13-day period.

Excessive heat is determined by Heat Index Values. The heat index, also known as the apparent temperature, is what the temperature feels like to the human body when relative humidity is combined with the air temperature.

Healthy young people often do not recognize the dangers of exercising in the extreme heat and can become victims of the hot weather. Outdoor workers are at high risk of heat-related illnesses and employers should be aware of their responsibilities for providing safe working conditions.

Heat emergencies are often slower to develop, taking several days of continuous, oppressive heat before a significant impact is scene. Heat waves often do not strike victims immediately, but rather slowly take the lives of those most vulnerable. Specifically, the elderly, those in poor health and the young are most likely to experience heat-related illnesses.

Heat waves can be very stressful on the electricity grid, causing blackouts and power outages, especially in urban areas where demand will be high. During heat waves even the nights can become unbearable, especially for those without air conditioning, making it difficult to sleep. Prolonged exposure to the heat can cause heat exhaustion or even life-threatening conditions like heat stroke.

Follow these tips to prevent heat related illnesses:

  • Never leave infants, children, the elderly, or pets unattended in a parked car.
  • Drink plenty of fluids. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty.
  • Dress in lightweight, loose-fitting clothing. Use a hat and sunscreen as needed.
  • Drink fruit juice or a sports beverage to replace salts and minerals lost during heavy sweating (If a client/resident is on a low-sodium diet, check with his/her physician first).
  • During the hottest parts of the day, keep physical activities to a minimum and stay indoors in air-conditioning and out of the sun.
  • Use fans as needed.
  • Open windows to allow fresh air to circulate when appropriate.
  • Use cool compresses, misting, showers and baths.
  • Avoid hot foods and heavy meals—they add heat to the body. Eat frozen treats.
  • Make sure pets have plenty of water and shade.

Man Drinking Water

What the Heck is a Flex Alert and Why You Should Care


You know how the lights seem to dim or flicker when the three vacuums, two margarita blenders and seven hair dryers are running on high? Don’t forget the air conditioner, either. That’s your house’s power supply under duress. Read more…

Preparing California for the Big One with Capstone 2015 Exercise

capstone still

So what does it take to prepare you for a life-altering disaster? Got it? Now multiply that exponentially. Preparing the state of California is a very complicated process on a scale that’s hard to imagine. But that’s what we here at Cal OES do; that’s our bailiwick, our area of expertise, and our charge.

This story is designed to take you inside the operations and hopefully give you a new found appreciation for what the state does to prepare for disasters, especially the “big one” like the Southern California Catastrophic Plan earthquake scenario being exercised at Capstone 2015.

Capstone 2015 Story

You’ll also understand that there’s a lot of work that happens when California isn’t in disaster, and that the state has spent millions of dollars and hundreds of hours worth of planning for specific events like the earthquake plans in the Bay Area and Southern California.

The work never ends; California keeps on planning, preparing and practicing for the next big disaster.

Volunteers of the Refugio Oil Spill

OverflightBoyd_05-26-2015_13_47_01 copy

Cal OES joined other state and federal agencies to form a Unified Command at the Santa Barbara County EOC. There, the UC coordinated all response and recovery efforts to the Refugio Oil Spill. Critical to our efforts were the teams of volunteers. But getting those teams together and ready to hit the beach is not as easy as it may seem.

The Volunteers’ Story


Crews Clean Crude Oil at Refugio State Beach (Photo by: Shawn Boyd, Cal OES)

The Refugio Oil Spill occurred on May 19, 2015, just north of Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara County, California. The oil spill came from a pipeline owned by Plains All American Pipeline. The ruptured pipeline typically moves crude oil from Exxon Mobil’s three offshore platforms situated in a nearby offshore oil field. Up to 101,000 U.S. gallons (2,400 barrels) leaked from the pipeline. The spill flowed through a highway drainage culvert with about 21,000 U.S. gallons (500 barrels) of crude oil reaching the ocean.

The spill occurred on the Gaviota coastline which is exceptionally scenic and mostly undeveloped. The dominant land uses are cattle grazing and recreation. There are some or chards with avocados and lemons and much of the actively used land is being held in agricultural preserves as defined by the Williamson Act. Three state parks are along this stretch of coast along with several resource preservation areas. The parks and agricultural areas are in between the rugged coastline and the mountainous Los Padres National Forest. The nearest city is Goleta, about 11-mile downcoast and the limit for the worst impacts of the spill.

This reminded many of another major oil spill in Santa Barbara. On January 28, 1969 an oil rig in the Santa Barbara Channel suffered a blow-out and spilled an estimated 3.4 to 4.2 million US gallons (81,000 to 100,000 bbl) of crude oil over a ten-day period.
(Source: Wikipedia)

Tribute to Cal OES HQ Building Namesake Unveiled

Bill Campbell Tribute Plaque Unveiled

California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr., and Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci, unveiled a new plaque honoring Senator William P. “Bill” Campbell.

Campbell passed away on March 22, 2015 at the age of 79.

The unveiling took place at the California Chamber of Commerce in Sacramento, on Thursday.

Bill served more than 20 years in the California Legislature as an Assemblyman and a Senator. As Senator, he served as Chairman of the Joint Legislative Committee, Minority Leader of the Senate, and leader in emergency preparedness, which led to the State Office of Emergency Services named “Senator Bill Campbell Building.”

Campbell May 9 2001 (2)

Bill Campbell at Building Dedication May 9, 2001

“We have lost a member of our emergency services family,” Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci said. “Bill was a great public servant and we’ll all miss his tireless support for OES and for public safety advocacy.”

The plaque will be prominently displayed at Cal OES headquarters in Mather, California.

Campbell was laid to rest March 28, 2015, in Orem, Utah.

‘No More’ Unveils the California License Plate to Fund Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Programs

IMG_0400Reports show that 12.7 million people are physically abused, raped or stalked by their partners in one year and today California policy makers came one step closer to getting that number down dramatically.

Cal OES Director Mark Ghilarducci joined Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles), Assm. Susan Eggman, Assm. Cristina Garcia, Celebrity Actress and NO MORE Ambassador AnnaLynne McCord, Jill Morris with NO More, Executive Director for CALCASA and Executive Director, Kathy Moore for the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence unveiled a new license plate that takes a stand against domestic violence and sexual assault.
IMG_0447“The national NO MORE campaign is honored and thankful to Assm. Gomez and all the agencies that helped make the California NO MORE license plate possible,” said Jill Morris with national NO MORE campaign.  “This project will raise awareness about the issues as well as resources for the agencies that protect and assist victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. We think it is a model program and hope other states create similar initiatives.”

To put those millions of victims into another perspective, that’s approximately the population of New York City and Los Angeles combined or 24 assaults every minute.  In response, Assm. Gomez authored and successfully passed Assembly Bill 2321 to create the license plate to raise awareness and funding for domestic violence and sexual assault programs throughout California.
“Domestic violence and sexual assault affects more than just its victims, it impacts everyone,” said Assm. Gomez.  “In California we don’t wait, we act. We wanted to allow people to play an active role in this cause by doing something small, but significant, to say ‘No More!’ to domestic violence and sexual assault. By purchasing the California Says NO MORE license plate, residents will help send real dollars to real programs that make a difference to the fight to end domestic violence and sexual assault.”

Cal OES administers funding and coordinates a number of victim services programs. Specialized staff provides support services like intervention, advocacy and shelter to survivors and children of domestic violence and sexual assault.

“We are honored to play a role and to sponsor this NO MORE license plate and look forward to working with Assm. Gomez and other partners,” said
Cal OES Director Ghilarducci. “California will be the first state in the nation to provide this specialized plate and whose cars will carry the important message that Californians say ‘No More to domestic violence and sexual assault.’”

To be among the first in the nation to have this specialized license plate visit



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