PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A heat wave is expected to send readings on thermometers skyrocketing this weekend.
KOIN 6 meteorologists are predicting temperatures to hit more than 90 degrees for three straight days over the weekend, from Saturday to Monday, and experts have warned of the possibility of heat exhaustion and heatstroke.
Heat-related illnesses can happen when the body isn’t able to compensate during hot weather or overexertion and cool itself, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Heat exhaustion is a serious illness that can lead to damage to the organs, and heatstroke is a potentially deadly medical emergency that requires immediate action.
Some people — including older adults, outdoor workers, those with heart disease, people taking certain prescription drugs or drinking alcohol, and those with mental illnesses — are more at risk than others for heat-related illnesses, the CDC says, but even young and healthy individuals can be afflicted if they are active outside during hot weather.
Even people indoors and at home may be at risk if they do not have working air conditioning. Last summer’s record-shattering heat dome left more than 100 dead from hyperthermia in Multnomah County and across Oregon.
Officials said many of the people who died, ages 44 to 97, had underlying health conditions, and some were found alone, without air conditioning or a fan.
These are the warning signs of heat-related illness, according to the CDC:
- Heavy sweating
- Cold, pale and clammy skin
- Fast, weak pulse
- Nausea or vomiting
- Muscle cramps
- Tiredness or weakness
- Passing out
If you are experiencing any of these, health officials urge you to move to a cooler place, take off any excess clothing, put cool or wet towels or clothing on, sip water and take a cool bath, if possible. If the symptoms worsen, last longer than an hour or if you begin vomiting, seek medical help right away.
- Fever of 103 degrees or higher
- Hot, red, dry or damp skin
- Fast, strong pulse
- Passing out
Health officials urge anyone experiencing these symptoms — or anyone witnessing someone who is — to call 911. If you see someone suffering from a heatstroke, the CDC advises to move them to a cooler place and lower their body temperature with cool, wet cloths or a cool bath. However, they should not be given anything to eat or drink, officials say.
Preventing heat exhaustion and heatstroke
Multnomah County health officials have released tips on how the public can prepare themselves ahead of heatwaves and avoid injury or even death.
Here are county health officials’ tips for preventing heat exhaustion and heatstroke:
- Drink more water than usual. Don’t wait until thirst kicks in.
- Avoid alcohol and drinks with a large amount of sugar.
- Take a cool shower or bath.
- Turn on air conditioning or fans, if available.
- Don’t use fans to blow extremely hot air on yourself, however. Use fans to create cross-ventilation.
- Wear lightweight and loose clothing.
- Avoid using stoves or ovens.
There will also be public cooling centers open across the metro area during the heatwave this weekend. Find the closest one to you with KOIN 6’s full list of locations and hours.
Health officials also urged community members to look out for one another as some individuals — particularly those who are elderly or vulnerable and live alone — may have difficulty dealing with the heat.
People should check regularly on those at high risk for signs of heat exhaustion or heatstroke, Multnomah County officials said on their website. People should also never leave pets or a person in a hot car.
Extreme heat is in the forecast starting Saturday in the Portland metro area, and counties are announcing cooling centers opening in the region to help those residents who need a place to cool down. Find a list of their locations and hours here.
If you have to be outside during high heat, health officials advise you to:
- Limit outdoor activity to the coolest hours of the day.
- Rest often in shady or cooled areas.
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat.
- Wear sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher, preferably “broad spectrum” or one with both UVA and UVB ray protection.
- Pack extra water, and if not needed for yourself, ensure others are staying adequately hydrated.