health, News, Weather

Prepare for ‘potentially historic heatwave’ with these local resources and tips

Today at noon, an Excessive Heat Warning went into effect for much of northwest Oregon and parts of southwest Washington.

The warning is expected to continue until Sunday, July 7 at 11 p.m., but it could be extended.

Heat Wave
Shelters
Fire Restrictions
Electricity
State Response


Heat Wave

The latest forecast by the Portland Office of the National Weather Service shows that temperatures on Independence Day will approach 90 degrees in western Washington County, then trend hotter the rest of the weekend, with temperatures from 100 to 105 degrees expected over four or five days.

“Confidence is increasing that this potentially historic heatwave will last several days,” the NWS said in a social media post on July 4.

“Overnight temperatures will also be very warm and limit chances to recover from the heat, with lows ranging from the mid 60s to low 70s,” the NWS explained in their heat warning.

The agency, describing the weather as “dangerously hot,” noted that heat related illnesses increase significantly during such events.

The NWS advised the following:

Drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of
the sunshine, and check up on relatives and neighbors.

Do not leave young children and pets in unattended vehicles. Car
interiors will reach lethal temperatures in a matter of minutes.

Take extra precautions when outside. Wear lightweight and loose
fitting clothing. Try to limit strenuous activities to early morning
or evening. Take action when you see symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

The NWS also urged those working in the outdoors to follow Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommendations to take frequent rest breaks in shaded or air conditioned environments.

“Anyone overcome by heat should be moved to a cool and shaded location,” the NWS said. “Heat stroke is an emergency! Call 911,” the weather agency said.


Shelters

Washington County maintains a hot weather webpage, which includes tips on staying cool, maps showing cooling centers in Washington County—the nearest being in Banks, Forest Grove, or North Plains for most readers—and free resources to be transported to a cooling center.

At noon Friday, July 5, two inclement weather shelters will open 24 hours a day until the heat wave abates. Neither are local; one is in Hillsboro and the other Beaverton, but if transportation can be made to get to these locations, Washington County has said it will not turn anyone seeking shelter from the heat away.

Meals are provided, pets are allowed, though there may be individual site policies that affect pet owners.

Washington County noted that the shelters are a supplement to the current 440 beds and rooms that meet emergency shelter needs for families with children, veterans, youth, and medically fragile individuals.
Locations:

  • Washington Street Conference Center, 102 SW Washington St, Hillsboro, OR
    Accessible via TriMet route numbers 57, max blue line
    Shelter Operator: Project Homeless Connect
  • Beaverton Community Center, 12350 SW 5th St, Beaverton, OR
    Accessible via TriMet route numbers 52, 76, and 78
    Shelter Operator: Just Compassion

“If someone outside is unsheltered and whose life appears to be in danger, call 9-1-1,” the county said. “Otherwise, if you see someone about whom you are concerned during cold [editor’s note: I think they mean hot] weather call the police non-emergency number at 503-629-0111 and request a welfare check.”

How this newspaper will be covering the heatwave

Hello everyone, Chas Hundley, editor of this newspaper here. I wanted to outline how we’ll be covering the news during this heatwave.

All of our emergency-related stories during the heat wave will be published here for free with no subscription required, which is our general policy for major disasters and emergencies, emergency road closures, and election results.

Starting Friday, I may launch a daily “live blog” style service on this and our sister site as heat-related news happens, rather than dozens of individual stories. This allows for quicker updates and contains related news and safety notices to one constantly updated story. Updates will be posted to our Facebook page to notify readers when there’s been an additional development.

For major events like a wildfire or significant power outages, we’ll still publish a full story. For life-threatening issues like a wildfire that’s threatening homes, we’ll also publish an emergency email newsletter, which is emailed freely to more than 2,000 Washington County residents. Head to the subscribe page on this website if you aren’t already on our email list, any subscription level will get you there, or head to the homepage and put your email in the newsletter section.

This initial story has a lot of generic tips and best practices for staying safe. I urge you not to take this situation lightly; heat waves are deadly. At least 116 Oregonians died during the 2021 heat wave, just a fraction of the total death toll throughout the western U.S. and Canada during the event. Emergency room visits for heat-related illnesses also spiked.

Nine of those people who died were our fellow Washington County residents.

We’re in for an extended heatwave that’s occurring during a holiday weekend and beyond while the region has entered fire season and seen increased fire danger.

You can help us in our work by feeding us news tips as they occur; if you see emergency vehicles responding to a wildfire, please get as much on-the-ground info as you safely can and if safe, take a photo and sent it to me: [email protected] or [email protected]. Stay safe, everyone!

Chas Hundley


Fire restrictions

Areas in and around the Tillamook State Forest are currently in “Moderate” fire danger as of Thursday morning. Fireworks are banned, and there’s other restrictions, too. See them all by clicking a location on this map to see if you’re in ODF-protected lands.

County-wide, there is an active burn ban. Do not have an outdoor debris, yard or slash burn or you run the risk of lighting your neighbor’s field on fire and maybe getting slapped with fines and fees and other legal actions.

Electricity

Portland General Electric urged their customers to reduce power usage if safe and possible to avoid straining the grid at peak times during the heat wave, which could lead to a power outage. Find out more here.

State response

To bolster the state’s response to the heat wave, the Emergency Coordination Center was mustered and state agencies are preparing to respond.

“Oregon will experience record-breaking heat across the state this holiday week,” Oregon Governor Tina Kotek said in a press release. “While extreme heat can be deadly for anyone, certain groups – children, elders, people with disabilities, and people who work outside – face additional risk. Also, remember to check on your neighbors, especially those who might not have access to air conditioning.”

Kotek noted the increased wildfire danger, too.
 
“High heat can also be a catalyst for wildfires. I strongly urge all Oregonians to practice extreme caution this weekend, stay cool, and take preventive measures to reduce the risk of human-caused wildfires.

Chas Hundley is the editor of the Gales Creek Journal and sister news publications the Banks Post and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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