The San Francisco Bay Area is in the midst of a huge heat wave, with the potential for injuries or death due to heat-related illness. When a heat wave pours in, children and the elderly are most susceptible to illness. Tragically, the heat caused the death of two people earlier this week in the South Bay. Both victims were over the age of 75. Even perfectly healthy adults can be at risk as well in extreme heat.
Most people will assume that heat related injuries, or death, are tragic circumstances due to extreme weather and nothing more. However, things may not be so simple. Depending on the circumstances, a heat related injury or death could have been prevented. Even further, that injury may be due to someone else’s negligence.
School District Liability for Heat-Related Injuries
Some building owners, managers, and operators could be held liable for a heat-related death or illness. For example, minors in school are under the care and supervision of their school and the school is responsible for the safety of their students. The school must ensure children have access to water foundations, stay hydrated, and avoid injury on the blacktop and play structures. A school could be liable for a child’s heat-related injuries.
Employer Liability for Heat-Related Illness
Similarly, (depending on the circumstances) an employer could also be responsible for an employee’s heat-related illness. This is especially important for employees who work outdoors or in particularly hot indoor environments.
Is Your Landlord Responsible for a Heat-Related Illness?
Short answer: probably not.
It is generally the tenant’s responsibility to pay their electricity bill so that they can run their fans and air conditioning units during extreme heat. However, your rental agreement could require your landlord to maintain your apartment’s air conditioning unit. If your landlord fails to properly maintain the unit and you or a loved one falls victim to heat related illness, your landlord could be held responsible for your medical bills and other damages.
Your landlord is also likely responsible for ensuring your apartment has running water and cold water. If you do not have cold water during a heat wave, the result could be devastating.
Fire Danger Risk & Injuries
In the Bay Area, when it’s hot – it’s dry. Avoid fire danger to your property, loved ones, and pets. If you have weeds or other plant life that is susceptible to fire, make sure to remove it. Learn more about weed abatement and other fire prevention techniques here.
Similarly, avoid campfires, fireworks, and other activity that can start a fire during this heat wave.
Friendly Reminders During the Heat Wave
Stay safe. Stay hydrated. Run the air conditioning if you have it. Some people don’t run the air conditioning for fear of high PG&E bills. Although it is certainly true that you will see a spike in your energy bill, if you are high risk, run that A/C. It is not worth a trip to the hospital to save money on your energy bill.
The elderly especially often cannot tell how hot it really is and fall victim to heat related illness. If your loved one or a neighbor is at risk, please go and check on them to ensure their safety. Most, if not all, of heat related illnesses are preventable.
When the weather is in extreme temperatures for days at a time, folks tend to run the air conditioning (if they have it) and this can help tremendously to ease health risks. I live in a hot climate in the East Bay and love air conditioning. Except when it goes on the fritz, which is what happened today of all days! 🙁
If you don’t have AC, get a fan for you and the other members of your household. Also make sure to stay hydrated. This guy has the right idea:
Pet Care During Heat Waves
If you have pets, make sure they have plenty of water and stay inside where it is cool. Because it is hot and your dogs will likely need more water, they will probably need to go outside more frequently to relieve themselves. Dogs and cats both can burn their feet on hot asphalt, so stick to shady and grassy areas to protect their paws.
Feel free to reach out. You’ll hear back from me personally within 24 hours, if not less.
All calls are forwarded to my cell phone. That way, you can reach me at any time.
Phone: (415) 523-0302. Extension 707.
All initial consultations are free.