Oregon Governor Declares Heat Emergency as Temperatures Soar


By Lynne Terry/Oregon Capital Chronicle

Oregon is in the midst of its first extreme heat wave of the summer, with temperatures soaring into the triple digits, and that prompted Gov. Tina Kotek to declare an extreme heat emergency through Tuesday.

“Extreme weather events are now the new normal for Oregon. Right now, state and local governments are on a path to strengthen our preparedness and response, not only this year but for the years to come,” Kotek said.

She urged the public to be careful.

“Both the record-breaking temperatures and the duration of heat present a clear and present danger, particularly for children, elders, people with disabilities and people who work outside,” Kotek said. “I am urging Oregonians to take every precaution and check on your family and neighbors.”

The National Weather Service out of Pendleton has issued an excessive  heat warning for the Lower Columbia Basin.

The warning will last until 10 p.m. on July 9.

Throughout the emergency, the Oregon Department of Emergency Management will coordinate with other state and tribal agencies to address heat-related needs across the state and marshal resources to mitigate the effects of the heat. Agencies have opened cooling centers as well, including in Multnomah, Jefferson and Josephine counties. To find county resources, including the location of cooling centers and transportation, call 211 or check 211info.org. If someone is having a medical emergency, call 911, officials said.

“Our top priority is health and safety during this heat wave,” said Ed Flick, director of emergency management at the Oregon Department of Human Services.

The agency is working with community organizations to get water bottles to the public and ensure air conditioners are working. As of Thursday, the department had delivered nearly 1,200 cases of water to churches, shelters and other facilities.

The Oregon Health Authority has been distributing air conditioning units to community-based organizations – it has delivered about 615 units so far – and since this spring, it has delivered air conditioning units and air filters to people through Medicaid, the Oregon Health Plan. Agency officials said they expect to deliver more than 1,500 units over the course of the heat wave.

Extreme heat can cause heat exhaustion and lead to heat stroke. Anyone experiencing heat exhaustion symptoms – dizziness, thirst, heavy sweating, nausea or weakness – should get to a cooler area, loosen or remove their clothing and sip on cool water. But don’t gulp it down, which can make the nausea worse.

If heat exhaustion is not treated, people can develop heat stroke, which can be life-threatening. Symptoms include confusion, dizziness or loss of consciousness – and often in addition to heat exhaustion symptoms. If someone near you is experiencing heat stroke, call 911 and get them to a cooler area, if possible, loosen their clothing and cool their body with water or ice while waiting for emergency services to arrive.

Do not give a person experiencing heat stroke alcohol or liquids with caffeine, which can make the body more dehydrated, and do not give them aspirin,  ibuprofen or acetaminophen, which can aggravate symptoms.

To avoid getting sick:

  • Postpone or limit outdoor activities. If you have to work outdoors, take frequent breaks and avoid the hottest part of the day. Never leave children or pets in your vehicle alone.
  • Drink plenty of water and avoid sugary, caffeinated and alcoholic drinks. Check that animals also have access to fresh water and shade.
  • Escape from the heat by going to an air-conditioned place such as a public library, shopping mall or public cooling center. Check on loved ones and neighbors who may be at risk and don’t have air conditioning.
  • Organize a stay-at-home kit in case the power goes out. It should include things like batteries and chargers for flashlights, cell phones, sleep-apnea machines and wheelchairs, Have fresh water, nonperishable foods and medications on hand.

This story first appeared in the Oregon Capital Chronicle.


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