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On occasion, the Pacific Northwest will endure bouts of extremely hot summer weather. Unless prepared, the health of many residents - especially the ailing, elderly or very young populations -could suffer during these heat spells. Staying cool and making simple changes in activities, fluid intake and clothing choices can help everyone remain safe.
Multnomah County Aging and Disability Services (ADS) and the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management (PBEM) are encouraging residents to follow these tips:
Strenuous activities on a hot day, spending too much time in the sun or staying too long in an overheated place can cause heat-related illnesses. Here is a list of heat-related illnesses and what you can do to prevent them:
Heat cramps are often the first sign you are overheated and may also be a symptom of heat exhaustion. Heat cramps are muscle pains or spasms, usually in the abdomen, arms or legs, that may occur when the body is depleted of salt and moisture. If you or someone you are with are experiencing heat cramps, you should:
Heat exhaustion is the body's response to a large loss of water and salt in your body. Warning signs include shallow and fast breathing, clammy skin, heavy sweating, paleness, muscle cramps, weakness, dizziness and nausea, vomiting and/or fainting. If left untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke. If you are someone near you is experiencing heat exhaustion:
If symptoms get worse or last longer than 1 hour you should seek medical assistance as soon as possible.
Heat stroke occurs when the body's temperature rises rapidly and can't cool itself down. This is a life-threatening emergency and you should seek medical assistance immediately. Warning signs can vary but may include:
While waiting for emergency services to arrive you can:
Sunburn is caused by over-exposure to the sun and is literally a burn on your skin. Symptoms include skin that becomes red, painful and abnormally warm after being exposed to the sun and may include blistering. If you are sunburned you should:
Where can you go to stay cool?
Cooling centers are opened sparingly and only during the most extreme heat events in Multnomah County and throughout the Portland Metro area. During less extreme heat events, residents are encouraged to use these resources for staying cool:
Plan for hot weather
Consider having a “cooling plan.” This is most critical for: 1) older adults, 2) people with disabilities or 3) people with health conditions who are at increased risk for heat-related illnesses.
Officials at Multnomah County Aging and Disability Services encourage vulnerable people to take the following steps:
Don't forget your pets!
Fido and Fluffy need to keep cool, too. Make sure your pets have plenty of fresh, clean water, a shady place to get out of the sun, and be careful not to over-exercise them. Most importantly, do not leave them in a parked car. Here are some of the warning signs your pet may have a heat-related illness:
Other resources for coping with extreme summer weather: