Heat Wave Brings Health, Pollution, Fire Risks To Bay Area

With another potentially record-breaking heat wave coming to the Bay Area this week, public health officials are warning people to take precaution to avoid exhaustion and dehydration.

Temperatures near the Bay and the coast are expected to rise to the mid 80s to mid 90s, while inland temperatures will peak at 104 degrees, the National Weather Service said today.

The heat is expected to last through Thursday, with temperatures starting to cool off that day and drop even further by Friday and the weekend, according to the weather service.

The heat could have health impacts, causing dehydration and exhaustion, particularly in people over age 65, infants and young children, people with medical conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, asthma or respiratory conditions. People who have been consuming caffeine or alcohol are also at a higher risk of dehydration, public health officials said.

To avoid heat-related illnesses, the San Francisco Department of Public Health recommends drinking plenty of water, even if not thirsty, wearing light-colored clothes and a hat, consuming alcohol or sugary drinks only in moderation, wearing sunscreen and taking breaks in the shade whenever possible.

Heat-related illnesses can cause symptoms such as difficulty breathing, red, dry skin with no sweating, a rapid pulse, a throbbing headache, dizziness, nausea, delirium or chills.

The hot, dry air could also cause health problems by trapping more pollution than normal. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District issued a “Spare the Air” warning for high smog today and Tuesday, and the forecast for the coming days indicate that more alerts will likely follow this week.

High smog can cause respiratory problems and can be particularly problematic for people already suffering from diseases like asthma, bronchitis or emphysema.

The dry air and strong sun could also create a fire danger with conditions ripe for wildfires starting from downed power lines, car accidents, construction sites, or outdoor barbecues.

Scott Morris, Bay City News

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