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Southern California residents urged to stay indoors as heat bears down

August 28, 2009 | 11:16 am

A heat alert has been issued for today and this weekend by Los Angeles County public health officials as forecasters predict temperatures approaching 110 degrees in valley and inland areas today, likely breaking records.

Coastal area temperatures will rise into the 80s and downtown Los Angeles could see temperatures as high as 100 today.

The public should seek relief at home, malls, libraries, senior centers or other indoor areas with filtered air conditioning. That means plans for picnics, hikes and Little League games should be canceled, especially in areas where smoke is visible, officials said.

“If you see smoke or you can smell the odor, you’re better off avoiding unnecessary outdoor activities,” Los Angeles County health officer Jonathan Fielding said on a call with reporters this morning.

Fielding urged people to stay in indoor areas with filtered air conditioning set to recirculate air and shut vents that pull air from the outside. For those whose homes do not have air conditioning, he recommended going to cooling centers that are expected to be opened, as well as malls, senior centers and libraries. Masks are not recommended for long-term use against the smoky air, Fielding said, because masks cannot filter the toxic air particles that can trigger coughing, bronchitis and other respiratory problems.

This weekend high temperatures are expected throughout the region and expected to be severe in the Antelope, San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys. Fielding urged the public to drink plenty of water and minimize outdoor activity.

Forecasters at the National Weather Service said coastal regions will receive some relief beginning Saturday, but valleys and inland areas are expected to remain hot and with temperatures topping 100 in some areas. The warmest valleys will see more relief on Sunday, when highs will dip into the 90s, the weather service said.

Red-flag warnings remain in effect for the rest of today and perhaps be extended into tomorrow in the mountains and foothill areas, as hot and dry conditions persist through the weekend.

-- Rong-Gong Lin II