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L.A. heat wave: Medical emergencies expected to spike this weekend

A heat wave that's forecast to bear down on the Los Angeles region this weekend is likely to bring not only a heightened threat of wildfires but also a spike in medical emergencies.

"People overestimate their abilities and underestimate the danger of the heat," said Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey.

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The heat wave is expected to ramp up starting Friday and bring triple-digit temperatures across the region, possibly breaking records in parts of the Los Angeles area, National Weather Service meteorologists said.

In Woodland Hills, the mercury is expected to climb to 106 degrees on Sunday, just a degree below the record for the date set there in 1971. Burbank and Lancaster could top out at 100 degrees, officials said.

While there won't be much wind that would push a fire out of control, the low humidity combined with the heat will only pile onto the high-fire conditions plaguing Southern California's forests, which are bone-dry from years of drought, said meteorologist Scott Sukup.

Firefighters, however, spend a majority of their time responding to medical emergencies during prolonged heat spells, officials point out. Residents across the Southland are being advised to wear light clothing and avoid strenuous activities in the middle of the day.

"Rest before you're tired, eat before you're hungry, drink before you're thirsty," Humphrey said. "It's not just the elderly or very young; strapping young healthy men and women bite off more than they can chew."

Humphrey said the warnings reminded him of 2010, when emergency dispatchers were flooded with 1,900 calls on one hot September day.

During that heat wave, Sally Menke, a 56-year-old film editor for Quentin Tarantino, died from complications due to the heat when she set out in Griffith Park one morning.

For breaking California news, follow @JosephSerna.

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