PASADENA (CBSLA) — Lawmakers and state officials are pushing for a ranking system for heat waves similar to those for hurricanes and tornadoes, treating them as a state of emergency.
If implemented, it would make California the first state in the country to rank heat waves.
“Instead of a ‘red flag’ for fire, we’re saying this is a red flag for your health,” said Pasadena Fire Chief Chad Augustin.
The ranking system would have three categories, with one being the least dangerous and three being the most dangerous based on how hot it actually is and the potential health impacts.
The categories would force cities and towns to take steps to protect residents, including having mandatory cooling centers, prohibiting certain outdoor activities, and banning companies from cutting off certain utilities for people behind on their bills.
“We never think about the issue of heat when we think about an emergency. We just look at it as another sunny day in California… no, we have some serious implications,” said Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia.
Garcia is a joint author of the bill to have heat wave ranking system. He said it was prompted by the state insurance commissioner’s report that details how climate change disproportionately affects low-income Californians.
“We need to focus our education, outreach, and ultimately our action to be able to avoid the loss of life,” Garcia said.
The state says the heat wave warning program could have a similar naming system as that of hurricanes.