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Jun-24-2021 17:09printcomments

Record-Breaking Heat Wave Health Advice for Oregon

Only 59% of Oregon households are equipped with air conditioning

heat wave

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - As the extreme heat wave moves into the Portland metro area and Willamette Valley this weekend, it’s important to be aware of heat-related illnesses, such as heat rash, heat exhaustion or heat stroke, and how to prevent them.

With forecasts calling for temperatures as high as 113 on Sunday and only 59% of Oregon households equipped with air conditioning, Dr. Caroline King-Widdall, family medicine physician with Kaiser Permanente Northwest warns that while anyone can be at risk for heat exhaustion and heat stroke, babies, children and the elderly are at higher risk for heat-related illnesses.

“There are signs to watch for, and preventive measures you can take to avoid heat-related illnesses,” said Dr. King-Widdall.

“Heat exhaustion happens when your body isn’t able to regulate its own temperature, and it begins to rise. This can happen when you’re working out rigorously or when you’re doing yard work outside on a hot day.

"When temperatures get hotter, the risk of heat exhaustion goes up. If heat exhaustion isn’t addressed it can lead to heat stroke, which is more serious.”

People with chronic illnesses who take certain medications that make them more sensitive to the sun’s UV rays may also be more susceptible to heat-related illnesses.

Postal carriers, police officers and others who work outside in the summer are also at a higher risk of heat stroke.

Following these heat safety precautions will help keep you and your family safe this summer:

  • Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids even if you do not feel thirsty. Avoid drinks with caffeine or alcohol.
  • Eat small meals and eat more often.
  • Avoid extreme temperature changes.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing. Avoid dark colors because they absorb the sun’s rays.
  • Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
  • Postpone outdoor games and activities.
  • Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat.
  • Take frequent breaks if you must work outdoors.
  • Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
  • Never leave children or pets alone in enclosed vehicles, even if the windows are open.
  • Check on your animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat.

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Source: Kaiser Permanente Northwest

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