California’s State Government Is Starting to Get It

Op-Ed: California makes it too hard for schools to shield kids from extreme heat

On Sunday, August 3, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security issued an ultimatum: The state must prevent heat injuries and deaths before their federal funding runs out because the state has left its schools dangerously hot.

The heat waves that began early this summer are now at least as bad as any in the modern record, with at least 11 people dead, many more at risk of heat-related illness, and more than 16,000 people experiencing at least one symptom of the heat-related illness known as heat stroke. In Los Angeles alone, at least 14 people died, and another 50 have been hospitalized. In the Central Valley, where the heat wave peaked, officials at least two dozen people, including students, died and more than 120 have been hospitalized due to heat-related illnesses, heatstroke, and dehydration. This summer, heat-related deaths and illnesses have already exceeded the number of deaths and illnesses during the historic 1991 heat wave.

While the heat waves that began in June have been disastrous and historic, as a state, California was slow to respond. The state didn’t enact statewide heat prevention policies. It didn’t make itself more air-conditioned. It’s not true that California has been particularly helpful in the fight against global warming. In 2017, California did the same thing that the state of Texas did earlier this year, when it shut down its schools and imposed strict limits on its people’s movements in order to mitigate the effects of the rising temperature.

But perhaps the California state government is finally starting to get it: This is the state’s opportunity to save lives by taking a few steps, and California must use this opportunity.

California’s federal government has been fighting the most important fight against heat-related deaths and illnesses in America for decades. It is time for that government to step up.

For the past two years, federal and state officials have tried to prevent heat-related deaths and illness by using federal law to force Californians to stay indoors. But it’s time for the federal government to get serious.

The problem is that in California, for the most part, people are not being forced to stay indoors.

The real problem: While the California state government has made it possible

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