SAN JOSE (KCBS) — Concerns over the impact of this week’s ongoing heat wave prompted health officials in Santa Clara County to take the unusual step of activating the reverse 911 emergency alert system.

The system was activated by the Santa Clara County Office of Emergency Services and it was the first time it’s been put in use due to excessive heat.

500,000 homes got an automated message from Dr. Martin Fenstersheib, the county’s chief health officer, with advice on how to stay safe.

“The elderly and infants are at the highest risk for heat-related illness,” his message stated. “Keep babies out of the sun. Dress them lightly and keep them hydrated. Outdoor workers should be drinking 2-4 cups of water each hour.”

Fenstersheib said heat stroke is a real concern.

“Symptoms of heat stroke include extremely elevated body temperature, lack of sweating, skin that is flushed in red, nausea, vomiting, confusion and unconsciousness,” he said. “Heat stroke can result in death. Any symptoms must get immediate medical attention. Call 911 and move the person to a cool location, apply a wet cloth to their skin and do not give the person any liquid.”

The health department said they decided to send out the alert because of so many hot days in a row.

The automated system, which can send thousands of text and voice messages within minutes to home and business land line phones, can be used for a variety of emergency and community service notifications.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed)


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