Despite promises, California doesn’t know how many people died in record summer heat wave
The death toll in the state’s record heat wave is just over a dozen. Thousands more are suffering from heat-related illnesses.
The numbers are based on records from local health departments, hospitals and the California Department of Health Services.
The state’s death toll is believed to be the lowest in the past three centuries, since a record heat wave struck the state in 1924 when more than 300 people died in Los Angeles and Riverside counties.
Even with this relatively low death toll, a sobering report from the California Health and Human Services Agency found that more than 9,000 Californians were treated for heat-related illnesses.
The agency said in a statement that heat-related deaths were caused by “heat-related illnesses and injuries’ and that there were no deaths directly related to fire.
“Heat can be a dangerous and life-threatening health condition, regardless of the cause,” the agency said. “Heat illness can be extremely dangerous, and no one should leave the home or work site without taking the proper precautions.”
Here’s what Californians should do and what they shouldn’t do to protect themselves from heat-related illnesses.
Wear lightweight and loose-fitting clothing.
One of the biggest risks for heat-related illness in California is the use of inappropriate clothing.
“In the summer, it is much safer to wear loose-fitting, lightweight cotton clothing,” said Dr. John Pate, a physician at Kaiser Permanente. “Lightweight clothing reduces the likelihood of overheating and the associated risks.”
This does not mean you should wear an old t-shirt or sweatpants.
“This is not a life-saver, but it is more protective of your health than a heavier weight, tight-fitting garment,�