Kern heat wave turns deadly

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Kern heat wave turns deadlyEven as the Kern County Department of Public Health was pushing out information about extreme heat warnings from the National Weather Service, at least one death in the county has been attributed to insufficient protection from the heat.

The Kern County Coroner’s office confirmed that 48-year-old Bakersfield Attorney Benjamin Greene died Tuesday evening while running a 5K race in Hart Park when temperatures were reportedly at 110 degrees.

Greene apparently collapsed from unspecified complications and became unresponsive to bystanders who attempted to deliver medical aid. An ambulance arrived on the scene in about 10 minutes, but Greene allegedly died shortly after arriving at Kern Medical Center.

Even in the absence of intense physical activity, precautions to stay cool and hydrated should be made when temperatures are high, said KCDPH public relations officer Michelle Corson.

“Extreme heat poses a substantial health risk, especially for vulnerable populations including young children, the elderly, those with chronic diseases or disabilities and pregnant women,” she said.

“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.”

She offered the following tips for staying safe in the heat:

• Drink plenty of water even if you are not thirsty. Avoid alcohol.

• 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 and 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 that increase likelihood of dehydration.

• To prevent overheating, use cool compresses, misting, showers and baths. Seek immediate medical attention if you experience a rapid, strong pulse, 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 county of Kern will open cooling centers when temperatures are forecasted to exceed certain highs. See also co.kern.ca.us/ pio/coolingcenters.aspx.

Pictured: Heat waves shimmer off the asphalt in the mid afternoon, when temperatures soared as high as 115 this week. -- Photo by Laura Austin

Story First Published: 2017-06-23