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'Heat-related illness is an emergency'

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EUGENE, Ore. - The Willamette Valley faces excessive heat this weekend, and southwest Oregon will see triple digit temperatures shatter records, the National Weather Service said Wednesday.

The Excessive Heat Watch for Eugene, Springfield, Corvallis and Albany takes effect Friday afternoon and continues through Sunday.

High temperatures are forecast to hit 90 in Eugene on Thursday before rising into the mid-90s Friday and through the weekend. | Where to cool off

"This is abnormally early for a heat wave of this magnitude," the National Weather Service in Portland said.

East of the Cascades, highs are forecast to exceed 100 F, with 90 F in the mountains, forecasters said.

Their colleagues in Medford predict record high temperatures in southern Oregon and northern California on Friday and Saturday, where a Heat Advisory is in effect.

Medford faces the worst of the heat: a forecast high of 108 Friday would eclipse the record 105 set back in 2006. A forecast high of 105 Saturday would top the 100 F mark reached in 2003.

Roseburg could challenge or break records, with forecast highs of 100 Friday (shy of the 102 record set in 2006) and 98 Saturday (compared to record of 96 set in 2003).

The coast is forecast to beat the heat: Coos Bay/North Bend face highs of 70, 65 and 61 Friday, Saturday and Sunday.


Health risks

Heat-related illness kills more Americans each year than tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and lightning combined, the Centers for Disease Control said.

The Oregon Office of Emergency Management and local police issued press releases urging caution and care, especially for the elderly, very young and pets.

"While enjoying the weekend, we need to make sure we take heat warnings seriously," said Andrew Phelps, director of OEM. "It is important to keep an eye on those who are most vulnerable to the effects of extreme heat like infants and young children, our elderly family members and neighbors, and those with chronic medical conditions."

The National Weather Service offered the following tips:

  • Avoid exertion during the heat of the day
  • Stay hydrated with clear, non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated liquids
  • Do not leave pets and children in automobiles
  • Use caution near rivers or lakes and be sure to wear a life jacket
  • Reschedule strenuous activity to early morning or evening
  • Know the signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke
  • Wear light weight and loose fitting clothing when possible
  • Keep blinds or shades closed during the day
  • Wait until cooler times of day to run dishwashers and clothes dryers
  • Instead of using a stove consider a microwave or outdoor grill

For people who work outside, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends scheduling frequent rest breaks in shaded or air conditioned environments, and anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool, shaded location.

"Heat stroke and other heat-related illness is an emergency," Phelps said. "Call 911 or seek medical attention immediately if you think someone is experiencing health issues due to the heat."

People who work outdoors or in hot conditions are at risk of heat illness.

From 2009 through 2013, 33 people received benefits through Oregon's worker compensation system for heat-related illnesses. The majority of claims each year occur in July.

Symptoms of Heat-Induced Ailments

  • Dehydration - thirst, less frequent urination
  • Prickly heat bumps - irritating skin rash
  • Cramps - painful muscle contractions
  • Edema - swelling of hands and feet
  • Exhaustion / Fatigue - characterized by clammy skin, paleness, dizziness, nausea, fever, and headache

Symptoms of Heat Stroke

Seek immediate medical help if you or someone else develops the following symptoms. Heat Stroke is the most severe heat illness and is a life-threatening situation.

  • Lethargy, sluggishness
  • Rapid heart rate and breathing
  • Confusion, disorientation, agitation, irritability
  • High body temperature
  • Intense muscle aches, fever, diarrhea or nausea
  • Convulsing, fainting, seizure, loss of consciousness

HEAT STROKE IS A MEDICAL EMERGENCY - CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY

Caring for a Heat Stroke Victim Until Help Arrives

While you are waiting for help to arrive you can assist the person by doing the following:

  • Get the person out of the heat to a cooler environment. Take them indoors if possible.
  • Fan the person with a newspaper or towel to cool the body.
  • Loosen or remove clothing and sprinkle the skin lightly with water.
  • Elevate feet to direct blood flow back toward the head.
  • If available, apply icepacks to the groin area or armpits.

Risk of Heat Related Illness

Some people are at greater risk than others to suffer heat-related illness:

  • Infants and young children
  • People aged 65 and older
  • Those persons who are physically ill, or have heart disease or high blood pressure
  • Those persons who must work in / wear protective equipment: helmets, respirators, heavy clothing

How to Beat the Heat - The Do's and Don'ts:

Do

  • Use air conditioners or spend time in air-conditioned locations such as malls and libraries
  • Use portable electric fans to exhaust hot air from rooms or draw in cooler air
  • Take a cool bath or shower
  • Minimize direct exposure to the sun
  • Stay hydrated - regularly drink water or other nonalcoholic fluids
  • Eat light, cool, easy-to-digest foods such as fruit or salads
  • Wear loose fitting, light-colored clothes
  • Check on older, sick, or frail people who may need help responding to the heat
  • Limit exercise to moderate activity and rest whenever necessary
  • Exercise during cooler periods of the day such as the early morning or late evening hours
  • Consult your health care provider or pharmacist to see which medicines are affected by excessive heat conditions
  • Know the symptoms of excessive heat exposure and the appropriate responses.

Don't

  • Direct the flow of portable electric fans toward yourself when room temperature is hotter than 90f
  • Leave children, the elderly or pets alone in cars for any amount of time
  • Drink alcohol, or drinks that contain caffeine or large amounts of sugar to try to stay cool
  • Eat heavy, hot, or hard-to-digest foods
  • Wear heavy, dark clothing
  • Exert yourself excessively

Avoiding heat-related problems at work

Here are some tips for preventing a heat-related illness:

  • Perform the heaviest, most labor-intensive work during the coolest part of the day.
  • Use the buddy system (work in pairs) to monitor the heat.
  • Drink plenty of cool water (one small cup every 15 to 20 minutes).
  • Wear light, loose-fitting, breathable clothing (such as cotton).
  • Take frequent short breaks in cool, shaded areas - allow your body to cool down.
  • Avoid eating large meals before working in hot environments.
  • Avoid caffeine and alcoholic beverages (these make the body lose water and increase the risk of heat illnesses).


Employers can calculate the heat index for their worksite with the federal OSHA heat stress app for mobile phones.


Where to cool off in Eugene

With temperatures in the 90s in the forecast, people will be looking for ways to cool off.

The City of Eugene issued a press release during the last heat wave inviting people to cool off in air conditioned libraries, community centers, swimming pools and parks.

All three Eugene Public Library locations are air conditioned. The hours of operation are:

The Downtown Library, 100 West 10th Ave., is open 10 a.m. - 8 p.m., M-Th, and 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. F-Su

The Bethel Branch Library, 1990 Echo Hollow Rd., and Sheldon Branch Library, 1566 Coburg Rd., are open 2 p.m - 8 p.m. Tues, 2 p.m. - 6 p.m. W & Th, and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. F & Sa; closed Sundays.

The City operates five communities centers that are air conditioned. The hours of operation and locations of those centers are:

  • Amazon Center, 2700 Hilyard St., 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., M-F
  • Campbell Center, 155 High St. 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., M-F
  • Hilyard Center, 2580 Hilyard St., 9 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., M-F
  • Petersen Barn Center, 870 Berntzen Rd., 9 a.m. - 5 p.m., M-F
  • River House Center, 301 No. Adams St., Noon - 4 p.m., M-F

Amazon, Sheldon and Echo Hollow Pools are open for recreational swimming daily.

For more information on pool schedules and fees, go to www.eugene-or.gov/recaquatics or call the numbers, below.

The pool locations, hours of rec swims and phone numbers are as follows:

  • Amazon Pool, 2600 Hilyard St.; M-Su: 2-5 p.m.; MW 6:30-8:30 p.m. 541-682-5350
  • Echo Hollow Pool, 1655 Echo Hollow Rd.,M-F:1:10-3:40 p.m.;7-8:30 p.m. M-F; Su: 1:15-3 p.m., 541-682-5525
  • Sheldon Pool, 2443 Willakenzie Dr.M-F:1:40-3:40 p.m.; MW 7:35-8:30 p.m.; F:7:30-8:30 p.m.; Sa: Noon-2 p.m.

Spray play areas in City parks are a cooling resource, as well. Spray play areas are located in the following parks:

  • Fairmount
  • Friendly
  • Gilham
  • Oakmont
  • Skinner Butte RiverPlay Playground
  • Washington

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