With summer heat temperatures reaching approximately 114-degrees in Blythe and the greater Palo Verde Valley on Wednesday, the National Weather Service formally issued an Excessive Heat Warning for the area effective June 12 through June 13 (8 p.m.).
Currently, Blythe has two local "Cool Centers" listed on the Riverside County Community Action Partnership's (CAP) announced 2019 listings – Including the Colorado River Senior Center (1 Hidden Valley Rd.), from Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.; and the Palo Verde Valley Transit Agency (PVVTA) Operations Headquarters (415 N. Main St.), from Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
The active relief centers are free, and serve as public drop-in locations for at-risk locals, seniors, disabled and persons in need of temporary respite.
"An Excessive Heat Warning means that a period of very hot temperatures, even by local standards, will occur. Actions should be taken to lessen the impact of the extreme heat," states the National Weather Service. "Overexposure can cause heat cramps and heat exhaustion to develop and, without intervention, can lead to heat stroke."
The Riverside County CAP also offers the following heat-mitigating tips to stay safe, cool, and pro-active during the hot temperature months:
• Drink plenty of water. Avoid alcohol and caffeine.
• Wear a wide-brimmed hat, or use an umbrella for shade.
• Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose clothing.
• Slow down—rest in the shade or a cool place when possible.
• Never leave a child, elderly, disabled person, or animal alone in a vehicle.
• Keep shaded areas with fresh water for outdoor animals.
• Turn on your air conditioner.
• Check on friends and neighbors who are elderly, have medical conditions, or are at higher risk for problems when it is very hot.
• If you do not have an air conditioner, use a fan, make sure your windows are open, and visit a cool center.
• Take a cool shower or bath.
• When it is hotter than 90-degrees, visit a friend that has air conditioning in their home or a cool place like a mall, a library or a senior center.
"You are also at risk if you have certain medical conditions, take medication for high blood pressure, have a mental health condition, have been using drugs or alcohol, or have had a previous heat-related illness," noted Riverside County CAP.
The region's air quality authority – the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District (MDAQMD) – is also underlining the dangers posed by the increased daytime highs and dry conditions to residents.
"Summer’s official start is less than two weeks away but summertime weather is already in full-swing in the Mojave Desert Air Basin, and the Mojave Desert Air Quality Management District is reminding residents to remain on high alert for potentially unhealthy air quality," stated MDAQMD's June 11 press release. "When daytime high temperatures reach near and into triple digits, they can lead to elevated concentrations of ground-level ozone, a chemical reaction that occurs when pollutants emitted by cars, power plants, refineries and other sources chemically react in the presence of sunlight. Ozone at ground-level — the main ingredient in 'smog' — is a harmful air pollutant because of its effects on humans and the environment."
Additionally, MDAQMD noted, the high daytime temperatures and low humidity conditions increase the risk for wildfires in surrounding areas.
"Wildfire smoke creates a significant concern to human health as the fine particulates can lodge deep in the lungs and trigger immediate physical reactions," stated MDAQMD.
Residents are encouraged to check www.MDAQMD.ca.gov or www.AirNow.gov for official and updated air quality index information. Folks can also visit www.enviroflash.info to sign up for text and/or email alerts for daily air quality forecasts.
“We know that when the temperatures start creeping up, we all need to be on high alert for the threat of wildfires and harmful ozone,” stated MDAQMD Executive Director Brad Poiriez. “The more people we can reach here in the Mojave Desert Air Basin, the better prepared we can be for these potentially significant air quality risks.”