Date: July 14, 2023

Author: April Kohnen

Griswold Home Care of North San Diego would like to remind you of the importance of preparing for extreme heat, public safety power shutoffs (PSPS), and wildfire emergencies. Living in California exposes us to the risks of extreme heat, PSPS events, and wildfire emergencies. The following information is provided to help us effectively prepare for these potential events.

Heat Preparedness

California weather can be dangerously hot, especially for vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly, and individuals with disabilities or chronic illnesses. It is important for primary caregivers to stay updated on weather forecasts and temperature fluctuations to protect those under their care from heat-related illnesses. Some signs and symptoms of heat-related illness to watch out for include, but are not limited to:

  • Heavy sweating;
  • Muscle cramps;
  • Weakness;
  • Headache;
  • Nausea and/or vomiting;
  • Diarrhea;
  • Tiredness; and,
  • Dizziness.

During warm weather, caregivers should monitor individuals for symptoms of heat-related illness daily. Those displaying symptoms should receive immediate appropriate care. The effects of heat-related illness can last for up to seven days.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) offer the following tips to stay safe during periods of excessive heat:

  • Never leave infants, children, dependent adults, the elderly, or pets in a parked car. It can take as little as 10 minutes for the temperature inside a car to rise to levels that can kill, even if windows are cracked open.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, regardless of activity level and even if not thirsty. Avoid very cold drinks, which can cause stomach cramps or drinks with caffeine, alcohol, or high sugar content, which can cause loss of body fluid.

Important! If persons in care have been directed by their doctor to limit the amount of fluid they drink, or if they take water pills, their doctor should provide information on how much they can safely drink when the weather is hot.

  • Monitor those on medications. Many medications increase the likelihood of dehydration.
  • Stay in an air-conditioned area as much as possible. Call the San Diego County Health & Human Services Agency to see the nearest Cool Zone heat-relief shelters in your area or visit this link. Electric fans may provide comfort but will not prevent heat-related illness.
  • Limit outdoor activity to the coolest temperatures of the day, for example, during morning and evening hours. Rest often in shady areas.
  • Wear lightweight and loose-fitting clothing to keep cool and a wide-brimmed hatto cover the face and neck. Apply sunscreen with Sun Protection Factor 15 (SPF15) or higher 30 minutes prior to going out, to protect skin from the sun. The CDC suggests that sunscreens that say "broad spectrum" or "UVA/UVB protection" on their labels, be used. Follow sunscreen directions on package.
  • To prevent overheating, use cool compresses, misting, showers, and baths. Seek medical attention if the following symptoms are observed: throbbing headache, unconsciousness, red, hot, and dry skin (no sweating), rapid, strong pulse, feeling delirious, or a body temperature above 103 degrees.
  • Check the local news for extreme heat alerts and safety tips.

West Nile Virus Precautions

Transmission of the West Nile Virus to people usually occurs in the summer and early fall when temperatures are warmer. If mosquitoes are abundant in the area, persons in care should remain indoors in the early morning and at twilight, when mosquitoes are known to be most active. Steps should be taken to reduce or remove standing water that can host mosquito eggs. Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents that, when used as directed, are safe and effective.

Additional guidance on West Nile Virus can be found on the Center for Disease Control website.

Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS)

California fire authorities anticipate a large fire potential during the summer months in areas that may experience critical weather such as high winds and dry conditions. California energy companies may initiate PSPS, as a preemptive firefighting strategy, in locations experiencing critical weather. However, because energy systems rely on power lines working together to provide electricity across cities, counties, and regions, the power may be shut off in areas not experiencing high winds or other extreme weather conditions.

If a public safety power shutoff is needed, expect the following:

  • Early Warning Notification – The energy company will aim to send customer alerts before shutting off power.
  • Ongoing Updates – The energy company will provide ongoing updates through social media, local news outlets, and its website.
  • Safety Inspections – After extreme weather has passed, the energy company will inspect the lines in affected areas before power is safely restored.
  • Power Restoration – Power outages could last multiple days depending on the severity of the weather and other factors. Power will remain out for as long as extreme and dangerous weather conditions pose a potential fire risk.

Important! In anticipation of PSPS, update your energy company with contact information and sign up for alerts to ensure prompt notice when electricity must be turned off for public safety. Please visit The Power of Being Prepared to learn more about PSPS and how to sign up for alerts from utility companies. In addition, high winds may result in energized and extremely dangerous downed power lines. Do not touch or try to move power lines, keep people and animals away, leave the area immediately, and call 911.

Wildfire Emergencies

Wildfires are a natural part of California’s landscape. The fire season in California is starting earlier and ending later each year. Because of this, California may no longer have a wildfire “season” but rather a year-round risk of wildfires. Being prepared has never been more important especially with potential events of critical weather. To prepare for wildfire emergencies, we are encouraged to:

  • Create a Wildfire Action Plan including identifying several alternative escape routes from the home and community.
  • Make sure that smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers are always in place and working.
  • Have a portable radio or scanner to stay updated on the fire, as cell phone service may not be available.
  • Create a defensible space around the facility by trimming trees and other vegetation, clearing away dead branches, wood piles, and vegetation from the roof, patio furniture, and play equipment, and keep rain gutters free of debris.

Additional Resources

The following additional links are resources to assist California residents in being prepared for extreme heat, public safety power shutoffs, and wildfire emergencies: