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Revenge of summer: Cooling centers open late, conservation urged

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Overcompensating for the relatively mild June and July, August is continuing its heat assault with temperatures registering monstrous numbers like 118 degrees in some of the region's valley and inland areas.

Southern California Edison, serving an area of nearly 14 million people, is spreading a message of electricity conservation while also readying the number of crews available to respond to possible power outages.

The company said earlier on Wednesday that high electricity use — particularly from air conditioners — was straining distribution equipment, but no power outages had been reported.

Local officials have been preparing for months to handle tight power supplies in light of the tubular trouble at San Onofre nuclear plant that caused a full facility shut down.

Officials at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power are also dripping with conservation messages in an effort to prevent strain on the power grid. Earlier Wednesday the utility reported outages in Chatsworth and Harbor City.

With NOAA/NWS calling for temperatures to remain high for days, the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks announced that a number of San Fernando Valley cooling centers would be staying open late. All city Recreation and Parks facilities will be used as cooling centers, but will otherwise maintain normal hours.

Senior centers and recreation centers in North Hollywood, Panorama City, Sunland, Sylmar, Sherman Oaks and Canoga Park will be open from 10 a.m to 9 p.m. through Saturday. Call 3-1-1 or  (213) 202-2700 for information on cooling centers, or visit the L.A. Parks website. 

Dr. Sean Nordt, an assistant professor of clinical emergency medicine at USC, says that while the elderly and the very young are most vulnerable to heat illness, everyone should take extra care during heat waves like this one. 

"The best thing to do is stay indoors if you can," says Nordt. "Exercise [in the] early morning hours or early evening when the sun starts going down. You also want to keep very well-hydrated."

Nordt urges everyone to pay special attention to signs of heat exhaustion, which can include ache-y muscles, infrequent uritnation, nausea, lack of coordination and general confusion.

Left untreated, he says, heat exhuastion can lead to potentially-fatal heat stroke, which happens when a person's body temperature exceeds 106 degrees.

"Their kidneys can shut down," he beings to list, "they can have a seizure, they can be in a coma, they can have a muscle breakdown, they can have abnormal heart rhythyms that can kill them and ultimately they go into shock that can be fatal."

Elsewhere in Southern California, cooling centers can be found in Los Angeles CountyVentura CountyRiverside CountySan Bernardino County and by using the Southern California Edison cooling center locator map.