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Heat taking toll

safety precautions encouraged

July 02, 2001|By DARREN SIMON, Staff Writer

El Centro firefighters on Sunday responded to three calls regarding people affected by the heat Sunday as temperatures reached 115 degrees.

The calls occurred between 2 and 5 p.m., said El Centro fire Capt. Ken Herbert.

In one case a passerby saw an individual stumbling through a field and called 911. When firefighters responded they discovered the man was dehydrated.

Herbert said firefighters suspect the man may have been drinking alcohol and that could have added to the effects of the heat. He said witnesses reported seeing the man with a bottle.

Herbert said alcohol and extreme summer heat do not mix, adding those who know they are going to be outdoors should not consume alcohol.

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In another case firefighters found a man lying in the shade of a tree. The man had been outdoors for several hours and was dehydrated.

In the third case, a man suffering from exposure to the heat was found sitting in the shade of a local business. The man told firefighters he had been drinking a lot of soda for a couple days.

Herbert said like alcohol, consuming soda and drinks with caffeine such as ice tea can be dangerous. He said caffeine accelerates the effect of heat and causes the body to lose fluids.

In all three cases firefighters treated the men with intravenous fluids and took them to El Centro Regional Medical Center. Information on whether the three were treated and released was unavailable this morning.

Herbert said he was unsure if the three men were transients.

Herbert said it is important for people to remember if they know they are going to be outside in the heat they should pre-hydrate themselves by drinking water. They should continue to drink water or electrolyte-filled drinks to avoid dehydration.

Jim Christopherson, county meteorologist, said Monday is day 50 for the year of temperatures exceeding 100 degrees.

"Yesterday was the warmest day of the year. We had 115 in El Centro and 114 at the airport," he said.

He added: "Both May and June were above normal temperatures but it was dry. Now we're starting the Arizona monsoon season, which usually begins about the Fourth of July and runs to mid-September."

It's called the Arizona monsoon season because moisture from Arizona seeps over the state line, affecting the Imperial Valley.

"The moisture comes from the Gulf of Mexico, Sea of California and the Caribbean Sea; humidity gets very high," Christopherson said.

Because of the heat and humidity, Valleyites probably can't get by without standard air conditioning.

"You have to have air conditioning. You ought not to try going without when it gets 115," he said.

During the upcoming monsoon season; expect some thunderstorms, heat and humidity.

"Once this atmosphere gets really saturated we can get some thunderstorms, especially along the Colorado River," Christopherson said. "The clouds that we see today are the debris clouds from Arizona thunderstorms."

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie contributed to this story. He can be reached at 337-3419.

Staff Writer Darren Simon can be reached at 337-4082.

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