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As Temperatures Hit Triple-Digits, Scientist Warns This Could Be 'One Of Biggest Heat Waves We've Seen This Decade'

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — As temperatures across California hit triple-digits, a local scientist warns that this hot spell could be "one of the biggest heat waves we've seen this decade."

"We're going to see a lot of nights, especially across the Inland areas, where temperatures never drop to comfortable levels and that adds additional stress on the human body, additional stress on electrical grids and just makes it harder to cope with the heat when it doesn't cool down at night," added Daniel Swain, a UCLA climate scientist, who said this could be one of the biggest heatwaves this decade.

These excessive heat warnings that can cause several health issues are occurring at the same time that coronavirus and wildfire concerns also loom.

"It can go very rapidly. You can go from being hot to a stroke. It can be life-threatening," said Dr. Victor Waters, Chief Medical Officer at St. Bernardine Medical Center. "The very old or the very young are particularly high risk for having complications like heat stroke. It can be anywhere from a rash, low blood pressure, confusion."

Air pollution is also a concern for people vulnerable to both complications from excessive heat and coronavirus.

Air quality officials say the region may see ozone pollutions at the highest levels in a decade.

"The heat is tough because it's a combination of pollution, fire causing a lot of problems, people with chronic lung disease that can be really irritating to the lungs. It can be a perfect storm with the heat and the poor air quality that can cause people a lot of trouble in these times," said Dr. Michael Hochman, Director of the USC Gher Family Center.

Meanwhile, as people try to stay cool, the state's power grid manager issued another statewide alert on Sunday night, urging residents to conserve electricity through Wednesday, especially between the hours of 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Officials have also warned of ongoing rolling power outages designed to prevent the system from overwhelming.

Doctors say the key to maneuvering these high temperatures are to have reliable access to indoor air conditioning; staying hydrated; being aware of the early signs of heat exhaustion that include confusion, an unusual headache, chest pain, shortness of breath; and to keep coronavirus safety guidelines in mind.

Heat advisories were also in place for Los Angeles, but through 9 p.m. Sunday. Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego remained under a heat warning through 9 p.m. Monday.

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