Heat wave in forecast: 'Most common cause of weather-related deaths'

Heat wave in forecast: 'Most common cause of weather-related deaths'

EUGENE, Ore. - So long, drenching rains. Hello, extreme heat.

Forecasters expect an abrupt shift from this week's unseasonably cool, moist weather to hot summer weather by Friday.

Temperatures could push 90 F or higher in the Willamette Valley, with parts of southern Oregon and northern California facing temperatures in the triple digits.

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And that old saw about a "dry heat" and cool nights won't apply at first.

"Humidity left over from our recent rains will make it feel muggier than usual," forecasters said, "and nights will be slow to cool off."

Beyond the discomfort of sticking to the bed sheets, high temperatures carry serious health risks.

"Extreme heat events, or heat waves, are the most common cause of weather-related deaths in the United States," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes. "They cause more deaths each year than hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, floods, and earthquakes combined."

Forecasters encourage the elderly and others susceptible to heat illness to watch weather forecasts as temperatures heat up this week and weekend.

"Those sensitive to heat should stay tuned for updates over the coming days as details about next week will become clearer," the National Weather Service said. "Now is a good time to consider how best to take a break from the heat in case a prolonged heat wave materializes over the coming days."


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



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:


• 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.


• Direct the flow of portable electric fans toward yourself when room temperature is hotter than 90°f

• 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