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High Temps, Hiker Dies


Last updated 6/24/2021 at 9:24am

Triple-digit temperatures with the dire need to stay inside and the cooling AC or swamp cooler blasting away, it is safe to say summer is here.

Southern California has been hit by the high temperatures, with the forecast calling for the system to bring in a prolonged heat wave and elevated fire weather conditions and all must take precautions.

On June 19, one hiker died and another was in critical condition after requiring a rescue on Palm Canyon Trail in Borrego Springs amid extreme desert heat.

It was so hot, a firefighter also required rescuing, Cal Fire San Diego spokesman Capt. Frank LoCoco said.

The evacuation operation began around 12:40 p.m., when the low-humidity heat rose to about 115 degrees. Worsening matters, the canyon walls trap in the heat, creating hot-box conditions in some places.

A Borrego Springs firefighter collapsed in the heat attempting rescuing the hikers, LoCoco told the station. The condition of the firefighter was not released.

“Two hikers were in distress and needed rescue, unfortunately, one of those hikers succumbed to that heat illness and was declared deceased at the scene and the other was transported to the hospital in critical condition,” LoCoco said.

Borrego Springs is no stranger to the high temperatures. On June 14, the temperature reached 113º F, tying the daily record for that day since 1965. The day after, it reached 117º F, previous record was 115º F. The following two days recorded sizzling temperatures of 120ºF+.

An excessive heat warning was issued by the National Weather Service from 10 a.m. June 14 lasting until June 18.

However, at no surprise, it was extended to at least June 20. According to the NWS, the heat would continue to blanket the county, and high temperatures are expected to be 10 – 20 º above normal for this time of year.

“There is still some uncertainty as to when the heat will relax, but there is potential for little change through next weekend, especially for interior areas,” according to the NWS.

All are encouraged to take precautions to stay safe: This is NOT your typical desert heat.

The NWS warned that extreme heat will “significantly increase the potential for heat-related illnesses.”

Public Health officials issued the following recommendations:

- Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Try to avoid alcohol and sugary drinks. Don’t wait until you are thirsty;

- Plan your day to avoid going out during the hottest hours, and wear sunscreen;

- If available, stay in an air-conditioned area during the hottest hours of the day;

- Wear lightweight, light-colored clothes, and wear a hat or use an umbrella;

- Never leave children or pets in cars and call 911 if you see a child or pet in a car alone even with the windows down;

- Check on those at risk, such as those who are sick, older adults, pregnant women, and children, and those who live alone; and

- If you are wearing a mask, avoid strenuous workouts wearing face coverings or masks not intended for athletic purposes.

- Beware of heat-related illness, like heat stroke, heat exhaustion and heat cramps, and call 911 if you or someone you know is experiencing high body temperature, vomiting, and pale and clammy skin. Such illnesses can be identified by symptoms that include fatigue, headache, cramping, dizziness, nausea or vomiting and fainting.

The California Independent System Operator, which manages the state’s power grid, released a statement saying the agency “could take a number of actions to reduce demand and access additional energy.’’ A statewide Flex Alert was issued for June 17 as temperatures continued to soar in the state.

The request to voluntarily reduce power use by California’s power grid manager is the first of several steps that Cal ISO might take to avoid power interruptions in the nation’s most populous state. The Flex Alert will be in effect from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Cal ISO offers the following power conservation tips.

- Turning off unnecessary lights.

- Using major appliances before 3 p.m. and after 10 p.m.

- Setting air conditioner thermostats to 78 degrees or higher.

- Use fans and keep drapes drawn.