California launches campaign to protect ‘highest risk’ communities from extreme heat

The State of California this month launched “Heat Ready CA,” a new statewide educational effort to help Californians stay safe from this summer’s heat waves.

According to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement, the $20 million campaign is designed to be a tool on how to stay cool and how to protect yourself and communities when temperatures skyrocket.

The announcement came amid a massive heatwave that impacted residents across the Southland.

“The impacts of climate change have never been more clear — the hots continue to get hotter in our state and across the West, putting millions of Californians at risk,” Newsom said in a press release.

According to the National Weather Service, this summer’s heatwaves across California and neighboring states “rival some of the worst heat waves this area has ever seen.”

The campaign targets “heat-sensitive” communities, groups of people who are more vulnerable to extreme heat, like senior citizens, disabled people, pregnant women, or workers who frequently work outside.

Heat Ready CA is part of Newsom’s larger $400 million Extreme Heat Action Plan, an overall response action plan to create immediate solutions — like setting up cooling centers — for communities facing extreme heat. (For a list of cooling centers across the state, visit the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services’ website.)

Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary for California Health and Human Services, said that “potentially dangerous effects of extreme heat” include “dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, as well as respiratory problems.”

In a press briefing hosted by Ethnic Media Services and the California Office of Community Partnerships and Strategic Communications, local experts discussed the reality of climate change’s impacts on various communities.

  1. Kelly Turner, professor of urban planning at UCLA, noted that major cities and urban centers have “heat islands,” areas where green space and shade are fewer and farther between. She added that “most Californians are effectively living in shade deserts.”

Dr. Lucia Abascal of California’s Dept. of Public Health said that residents who can’t afford to run air conditioning in their homes are welcome to visit libraries, malls, and other public spaces that offer shade and air conditioning.

Los Angeles has its own county-wide extreme heat advisory and action plan, and during periods of extreme heat, all 73 libraries across LA County will be open to all. The City of LA is also expediting plans to implement more shade structures at bus stops and public transit hubs.

Abascal also reminds all to stay hydrated and that the signs of heat stroke include dizziness, leg cramps, and disorientation.

 

Klarize Medenilla

Klarize Medenilla is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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