SAN DIEGO (CNS) - With a serious hot spell bearing down on the region, health-services officials Friday advised San Diego-area residents to take some simple precautions to keep themselves and their loved ones from suffering any ill effects from the sweltering weather.

The likelihood of temperatures soaring as much as 20 degrees higher than normal over the next several days prompted the National Weather Service to issue an excessive-heat warning for inland areas, effective from 11 a.m. Sunday to 8 p.m. Wednesday.

For its part, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency advised locals to keep in mind that the elderly, children and those with chronic medical conditions are more prone to heat stress than others.

While even a few hours spent in an air-conditioned building can help significantly, electric fans cannot be relied upon to maintain healthy conditions if temperatures exceed 90 degrees, the agency noted.

The county's "Cool Zones" program has designated more than 115 air- conditioned buildings as public cooling centers. Locations and hours of operation can be found online via a new interactive map at, or by calling the 2-1-1 San Diego telephone service.

To avoid heat-related problems, authorities recommend:

-- staying in an air-conditioned area during the hottest hours of the day;

-- wearing light, loose-fitting clothing;

-- drinking plenty of water while avoiding alcohol and sugary drinks;

-- taking cool showers;

-- never leaving a child, elderly person or pet unattended in a car;

-- shunning unnecessary strenuous work or other activities outdoors during the hottest part of the day;

-- avoiding unnecessary sun exposure, and wearing a wide-brim hat if venturing into unshaded areas;

-- checking on the well-being of elderly relatives and neighbors; and

-- refraining from turning on ovens.

An extremely elevated body temperature -- 103 degrees or higher -- along with dizziness, nausea, confusion and headache are signs of heat stroke or heat exhaustion. Anyone who displays such symptoms should be moved to a shady spot immediately and fanned, sprayed with water or placed in a cool shower if alert, according to the health agency.

A friend or family member also should monitor the victim's body temperature and keep him or her from consuming any liquids until the condition passes or medical attention is sought, officials said.