Any longtime Central Valley resident knows that the summer months are not for the faint of heart. Oppressive temperatures often reach into the 100s, creating stifling conditions outside and making life miserable indoors for those without air conditioning.
In 2006, extreme climate conditions were not merely uncomfortable; the heat proved deadly, as dozens of Stanislaus County residents lost their lives from heat-related conditions.
Thankfully, the county, city and American Red Cross have since taken a more proactive approach to the problem, getting the word out about local “cooling zones” through fliers and the media and by encouraging interaction among residents.
Those efforts appear to be paying off, despite the fact that a 91-year-old Modesto-area woman ended up dying from heat stroke this week.
In Patterson, more than 30 people sought shelter at the Patterson Senior Center on Wednesday, a sign that residents are taking note of the health risks of hot weather.
That’s a good thing. Local residents should continue to heed county health officials’ advice this week by looking after friends, family and neighbors, particularly those without air conditioning.
While many seniors today grew up without air conditioning and may feel such “luxuries” are unnecessary, statistics indicate they also have been the most vulnerable to heat-related deaths.
Residents should also make sure to remain hydrated when outdoors, try to stay in air-conditioned areas and not rely on ceiling fans to keep cool, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Kudos should go to the county, the American Red Cross, the city and senior center staff for promoting awareness about the dangers of the heat.
If scientific studies that suggest global warming are correct, then the weather will only get hotter in years to come, and heat stroke likely will become an even more dire issue in the valley.
We might as well prepare now by forming good summertime habits.