MERCED — Scorching triple-digit temperatures are coming to Merced, and the city is opening its cooling center just in time to offer relief.
The city's cooling center will be open from 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday through Wednesday at the Merced Civic Center, 678 W. 18th St.
Temperatures are expected to hit 108 degrees by Tuesday, according to Jim Bagnall, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Hanford.
Triple-digit heat will begin Friday, with the high around 100 degrees, Bagnall said. Saturday's high is forecast to be 103 degrees; Sunday is expected to spike to 104 degrees.
The beginning of the week will bring even higher temperatures 106 degrees Monday and 108 on Tuesday, Bagnall said.
Although triple-digit temperatures are not uncommon for Merced County, Bagnall said the region is hotter than normal for this time of year. "Every summer, we expect to have a heat wave with triple-digit temperatures for several days, but you don't know when it's going to occur," he said. "When you're talking about the normal average temperature for this time of year, it's usually around 95 degrees."
By Wednesday, temperatures will drop slightly to 104 degrees and lead the way to a cooler Independence Day holiday.
During the heat wave, city officials said residents should drink plenty of fluids, avoid caffeine and alcohol, dress in cool clothes, wear a hat and stay out of the sun whenever possible.
Residents should never leave infants, children, pets or elderly people unattended in a parked car.
Mike Conway, Merced city spokesman, said residents should check up on neighbors who may be susceptible to excessive heat such as the elderly or those with young children.
Taking extra care of pets, including providing water, is important.
Warning signs of heat stroke or exhaustion include heavy sweating, muscle cramps, weakness and headaches. Heat stroke happens when the body can't control its temperature and can be deadly if left untreated.
Heat exhaustion occurs when the body loses a large amount of water and salt contained in sweat.
If residents see any of these signs, they are asked to call 911 and to move the victim to a shady area. Giving the victim a cool bath or shower is also recommended.
Ramona Giwargis can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or firstname.lastname@example.org.