Valley residents cope with record heat wave

Linda Saholt

News Review Correspondent

Valley residents cope with record heat waveHot enough for you? Currently, according to the weather services, the entire West Coast is experiencing a record heat wave. The mercury is expected to start coming back down about Friday.

Ridgecrest’s highest recorded temperature (so far) is 119 degrees F., set in 1972. That’s small comfort when the temperatures have been topping 114 degrees the last few days. Excessive heat warnings are in effect until the heat wave ends.

The highest recorded temperature on the planet was 134 degrees, in Death Valley, on July 10, 1913, one week short of a century ago. (A reported 1922 teperature of 136.4° in Al Azizia, Libya, was later ruled invalid.)

So how are we doing here in Ridgecrest? According to Ridgecrest Regional Hospital Nursing Supervisor Kim Parkinson, so far a few people have been coming in with heat-related problems.

“There have been a couple here and there, but not a lot,” said Parkinson. “Everyone’s been good so far this year, which is great. No one has had to be hospitalized for heat issues yet. We’ve got a way to go in this heat wave, but so far so good. Everyone’s being desert-sensible.”

As a reminder for those suffering from the heat, here are a few suggestions. First, for seniors and those who are susceptible to heat exhaustion, the only cooling center in the Indian Wells Valley right now is the Inyokern Senior Center, located at 1427 Broadway. Call 760-377-3332 for more information.

For those in Ridgecrest who need to get out of the heat for a while, or whose cooling unit or power goes off, go someplace with air conditioning, such as the Ridgecrest Branch Library, the Maturango Museum, the lobby of Ridgecrest Regional Hospital or the Kerr McGee Center’s lobby. Take in a movie, go shopping or check out Pinney Pool. You can also run a nice tepid bath and read while you soak for an hour or so. A cool shower or sponge bath will also work. If you can get in front of a fan, and/or apply wet or ice towels, that will help, too.

Remember to drink lots and lots of water, even if you don’t feel thirsty, plus fruit or vegetable juice or electrolyte-rich sports drinks to avoid dehydration. Soda pop alone will not do the job; it may make heat-related problems worse. It’s best to avoid fluids containing either caffeine or alcohol, because both substances can make you lose fluids and worsen heat exhaustion.

Stay out of the midday heat if at all possible. If you have to be outside, remember to wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen and take frequent breaks. Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing. Infants and children up to age four, and adults older than 65, are particularly vulnerable because they adjust to heat more slowly than other people.

There are two types of heat exhaustion: water depletion and salt depletion. Signs of water depletion include excessive thirst, weakness, headache and loss of consciousness. Signs of salt depletion include nausea, vomiting, frequent muscle cramps and dizziness.

Some other symptoms of heat exhaustion can include confusion, dark-colored urine, fainting, fatigue, pale skin, profuse sweating and rapid heartbeat.

Although heat exhaustion isn’t as serious as heat stroke, it isn’t something to be taken lightly. Without proper intervention, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke, which can damage the brain and other vital organs and even cause death.

Story First Published: 2013-07-02