The hottest weather ever recorded in Woodland Hills at a national weather station took place just a few short weeks ago. At 121 degrees, the sweltering heat from the sun drains our bodies of energy and puts them at dangerous risk of not being able to cool themselves. This rise in temperature can cause heat stroke and even death.
At Bio SoCal, every year we clean up avoidable death scenes of people who have passed away from heat stroke during high heat and we want to raise awareness of the dangers so it doesn’t happen to you or a loved one. As we continue to experience high heat under the hot sun, make sure you are taking care of yourself and those you care for.
What is heat stroke
Heat stroke occurs when a person’s body is unable to cool itself in high temperatures and reaches an internal temperature of 104˚ or more. The hotter the weather is and the more a person is not used to the high heat, the faster heat stroke can occur. It is important to always be vigilant and to protect yourself and others when the weather heats up like it did in September. Symptoms of heat stroke include:
- Clammy skin
- low blood pressure
- Slurred speech
- Profuse sweating
If immediate action is not taken to cool a person down, organs swell, the brain is damaged, and death can occur. Heat stroke most often occurs when people exert themselves in high heat, when children or pets are left in hot vehicles, or it can occur when people are in spaces without air conditioning, especially older adults.
Unattended Death Cleanup
With all the people living alone in solitude without air conditioning, it doesn’t take long in high heat for someone to suffer a heat stroke and pass away without anyone knowing about it. In such cases, it is usually the odor of the body as it decomposes over the coming days or weeks that alerts someone to the problem. As we work on these unattended death cleanups to make the property safe for other people by removing the body fluids and thoroughly cleaning the area, we see how avoidable these deaths are and want to do what it takes to alert people of these dangers before death occurs.
Fires and rolling blackouts
In addition to the damage heat can do to our bodies, there are additional risks to our health and belongings from the heat. When high temperatures dry out an area over time, the risk of fire grows and once sparked, can quickly race through dry underbrush, wiping out entire neighborhoods or even whole towns in the process. To protect yourself and your belongings, make sure any dry bushes and trees are removed from the perimeter of your house and keep important papers at an easy to access location in case you are forced to evacuate.
Another consequence of high heat is when the demand for power to supply air conditioners outstrips the supply of electricity available. When this occurs, a power company will decide to conduct what Is called “rolling blackouts.” To ease the demand, the company turns off the electricity to certain areas for short periods of time to make sure the supply meets the current demand. If you live in an area where this occurs at times of high heat, make sure you have other ways to cool yourself during those hours when your power is turned off.
Precautions to take when temperatures go up
When temperatures go up, there are several precautions you can take to avoid ill-health from the heat and to make sure your loved ones are safe. If you are responsible for those who may not be able to protect themselves such as children, older adults, or animals, it is particularly important to be vigilant.
- Drink lots of water and avoid alcoholic and sugary drinks
- Stay indoors in cooler temperatures as much as possible and use air conditioning if available
- Wear light colored, lightweight, loose fitting clothing
- Avoid strenuous activity outdoors
- Take a cold shower or bath
- Shut all windows and blinds in a house during the day and air it out at night if temperatures are cool enough
- Never leave a child or animal in the car
Exercise caution when temperatures rise
With temperatures rising once more, make sure to stay in cool areas, minimize outdoor exercise, and protect those who may not be able to protect themselves. If you know someone who doesn’t have air conditioning, check on them or help them find an open cooling center nearby.
Unattended Death Cleanup Questions
If you have questions about cleaning up a property after someone has passed away, we here at Bio SoCal are always happy to help.