Photo courtesy National Weather Service
Photo courtesy National Weather Service

Get ready for the year’s worst heat wave.

It’ll be sort of hot Saturday, it’ll be really hot Sunday and by Monday — Wow!

Don’t just think the heat will be uncomfortable. Officials are warning the scorching temperatures can be dangerous to people — especially the very young and elderly — and precious pets.

Temperatures are forecast to climb sharply starting Saturday, and Monday is expected to be the hottest day, with temperatures ranging between 100 and 110 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

Downtown L.A. is forecast to have a high near 90 Saturday, 98 on Sunday, 103 on Monday and 91 on Tuesday. Woodland Hills will reach 98 Saturday, 105 on Sunday, 108 on Monday and 99 on Tuesday. In Anaheim, the forecast was 93 Saturday, 102 on Sunday, 102 on Monday and 89 Tuesday.

The “dangerously hot conditions” will result from “an extremely strong area of high pressure” over Arizona and New Mexico, according to a weather service statement. Minor relief is expected in coastal and valley areas beginning Tuesday, but the San Gabriel Mountains and the Santa Clarita Valley will remain dangerously hot.

A fire danger sign with the iconic Smokey Bear. Image courtesy Centers for Disease Control

Those headed to the mountains for the weekend also face increased chances of wildfires. The high heat combined with humidity levels in the single digits and  teens “will likely bring an extended period of elevated fire danger across much of southwest California Saturday through Tuesday,” according to the weather service.

“Dangerous heat-related illness is possible, especially for sensitive populations, those conducting outdoor activities, and people without access to air conditioning,” the weather service said.

Dr. Karen Smith, California Department of Public Health director and State Public Health officer, underscored the seriousness of the hazards posed by high temperatures.

“Heat-related emergencies cause dozens of deaths in California each year and prompt thousands of people to seek treatment at local emergency rooms,” Smith said Friday. “In 2006, nearly 200 people died in California from extreme heat. High temperatures need to be taken very seriously. People should protect themselves and watch out for others who might be vulnerable.”

The California Department of Public Health recommends that Southlanders stay safe during the heat wave by:

— keeping an eye on media reports for the latest weather forecasts and information from local officials;

— learning the warning signs of heat-related illnesses;

— staying out of the sun;

— staying hydrated;

— reducing physical activity;

— identifying a cool location, such as a mall, library, theater or designated cooling center (the Los Angeles Police Department recommends calling 311 within city limits and 211 within county limits to find the nearest cooling station);

— using cool compresses, misting and baths to lower body temperatures;

— wearing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing;

— wearing sunscreen;

— checking on pets, friends, family and neighbors who may be especially sensitive to excessive heat.

Additionally, the NWS notes that anyone overcome by the high temperatures should call 911 because heat stroke is an emergency.

The agency also reminds people that they should never leave people or pets in enclosed vehicles, even for a few minutes.

Besides not leaving animals in parked cars, city animal services officials say pet owners must make sure their furry friends are kept cool during the heat wave. Pet owners should watch for signs of heat stroke, such as fast and noisy breathing, difficulty swallowing and distressed behavior.

If heat stroke is suspected, pet owners should place a cold, wet towel on the back of the animal’s head, and towel-wrapped cold compresses on their back legs and belly. The pet should be immediately taken to a veterinarian to be checked.

Other tips include:

— making sure the pet has fresh drinking water served in a large container, instead of a shallow bowl, to allow the water to remain cold longer;

— giving your dog ice cubes to eat or adding them to the water bowl;

— avoid burning dogs’ paws by keeping them off hot pavement or concrete during walks, and if necessarily do the walks early or later in the day when it is cooler; and

— taking extra care to provide shade to pets with lighter coats because they are more likely to be sunburned.

Also of concern is the state’s power grid, prompting Los Angeles Department of Water and Power officials to urge customers to reduce their energy use whenever possible.

“During times of extreme heat, we strongly encourage customers to conserve electricity as long as it does not jeopardize their health,” DWP General Manager Marcie Edwards said. “Doing simple things such as turning up your thermostat to 78 degrees and turning off your lights will save electricity use and reduce the risk of outages.”

DWP officials noted that outages can occur during episodes of high heat when residents and businesses crank up their air conditioners at the same time. According to the utility, conservation is particularly essential from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The utility recommended that customers save energy by:

— turning thermostats to 78 degrees or higher;

— turning off unnecessary lights;

— adjusting water heaters to 120 degrees;

— using major appliances only late in the evening or early in the morning; and

— turning off pool pumps.

Residents were also urged to prepare for possible power outages by having flashlights and batteries readily available and keeping a battery- operated radio handy. DWP officials also recommended that people keep a phone charger in a car to ensure they can contact friends or relatives during an outage, keep a supply of non-perishable food and have a cooler available to use for food that needs to be refrigerated.

— From Staff and Wire Reports

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