Heat Ready CA Campaign Launched To Protect Communities From Extreme Heat

On July 11, Governor Gavin Newsom launched Heat Ready CA, one of the nation’s first statewide multi-ethnic awareness and education campaigns designed to keep Californians safe during extreme heat. 

By Victoria Rodgers | South Kern Sol

On July 11, Governor Gavin Newsom launched Heat Ready CA, one of the nation’s first statewide multi-ethnic awareness and education campaigns designed to keep Californians safe during extreme heat. 

Heat Ready CA is a public awareness and outreach campaign led by the Governor’s Office of Community Partnerships and Strategic Communications (OCPSC), a newly established office that manages the state’s highest-priority public engagement efforts. Through integrated outreach, advertising, social media, and influencer engagement, the campaign is meeting people where they are through a culturally responsive approach. Heat Ready CA is engaging trusted messengers including multiethnic community-based organizations, ethnic media, meteorologists, and other partners statewide.

Heat is one of the deadliest forms of climate-driven extreme weather and this campaign is to help protect communities from that extreme heat. Heat Ready CA is a two-year $20 million campaign that will focus on heat-sensitive groups at the highest risk, including those 65 years of age or older, workers, and individuals with chronic illness, disabilities, or who are pregnant. 

“The impacts of climate change have never been more clear – the hots continue to get hotter in our state and across the West putting millions of Californians at risk,” said Governor Newsom. “California is launching Heat Ready CA as another tool in the state’s arsenal to protect people from extreme heat. We’re asking everyone to stay alert to changing weather and take the necessary steps to keep themselves and their families safer from deadly heatwaves.”

The campaign is part of Governor Newsom’s Extreme Heat Action Plan, which is backed by more than $400 million to guide the state’s response to heatwaves. This ensures California is reaching vulnerable communities, protecting frontline workers, and helping communities stand up cooling centers.

The launch of Heat Ready CA cae as much of California and the southwestern United States is expected to experience extreme heat that the National Weather Service has said will rival some of the worst heat waves this area has ever seen. In Kern County, Bakersfield is expected to experience triple-digit temperatures reaching up to 116 degrees Fahrenheit. 

“Heat-related illnesses such as dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke, as well as respiratory problems, are among the potentially dangerous effects of extreme heat,” said California Health and Human Services Secretary Doctor Mark Ghaly. 

On Tuesday, California also moved into Phase II of it’s Extreme Temperature Response Plan today, which calls for increased coordination among state agencies and local partners. Excessive heat watches and warnings are in effect across the southern half of the state, with additional watches, warnings, and advisories possible farther north, including the San Joaquin Valley.

“As with earthquakes, floods, or other natural weather events, Californians can better protect themselves and others with a few simple tips,” Ghaly continued. 

Californians are encouraged to follow these tips to stay safe during extreme heat events:

  1. Stay cool. Close shades, windows, and blinds. Set air conditioners between 75 and 80 degrees. If air-conditioning isn’t available, find a local cooling center or other air-conditioned public space (libraries, shopping malls, community centers, etc.). Try to stay indoors and wear loose, light-colored, lightweight clothing. While spending time in the water is refreshing on hot summer days, many California rivers are running faster, while lakes are deeper and colder than they’ve been in recent years. This makes them more dangerous than normal, even for strong swimmers.
  2. Stay hydrated. Drink at least 2 cups of water every hour even if you’re not feeling thirsty. Avoid alcoholic or caffeinated drinks.
  3. Look after each other. Check-in on friends and family, especially elderly relatives or neighbors. Call 911 if there are signs of high fever (103°F or higher) or in case of other emergencies.

“Scientists project that all of California will be impacted in the years and decades to come by higher average temperatures and more frequent and life-threatening heat waves, disproportionately impacting the most vulnerable communities,” stated the Office of Governor Newsom in a press release.

 Californians can learn more about these heat projections and what they mean for their community by using the California Heat Assessment Tool. Californians can find their community’s heat risk level by using the National Weather Service’s HeatRisk Prototype or by following local weather forecasts. Californians can find their local cooling centers here.