SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- Mary Sprague had a hard time coping with this weekend's hot weather.
"Miserable. I had a fan right on the bed," said Sprague.
Sprague doesn't have air conditioning in her Springfield home, and she's not alone.
"It was so hot in there, I went to grab a towel and put water around my neck, and the water was hot," said Delores Price of Springfield.
These two women spent Monday afternoon basking in the cooler setting of Springifield's Willamalane Senior Center.
An air-conditioned building is the best defense against heat related illnesses, and as temperatures approach record-setting highs, cool air can mean life or death.
Heat-related illnesses can kill
The Northwest isn't known for searing heat, so it's important to look out for symptoms signaling heat related illnesses.
"You kick up to the 90s and the 100 degree mark, it definitely has an impact. It kind of catches people off guard," said Fred Lundgren, Springfield Fire & Life Safety.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 300 people die across the country each year from excessive heat exposure -- more than are killed by earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and tornados combined.
Symptoms of heat-related disease can include:
- Heavy sweating
- Muscle cramps
- Nausea or vomiting
Those symptoms could all mean you're suffering from the effects of extreme heat. Those most susceptible are infants and young children, people 65 and older, those with mental illness, and people who are physically ill.
If you notice someone exhibiting symptoms:
- Get them to a cool place
- Have them lie down and elevate their legs
- Then have them take slow sips of tepid water
- Wrap cool, wet towels, around their head, neck and armpits.
Eugene and Springfield emergency officials said Monday morning at a media briefing that if these symptoms persist, don't be afraid to call 911 for help.
While emergency managers in Eugene and Springfield have not set up designated cooling centers, you can still find relief at Valley River Center in North Eugene, Gateway Mall in Springfield, any library, Cinemark 12 for a $1.50 movie in Springfield, Amazon Community Pool in South Eugene, Willamalane Pool in Springfield, the YMCA in South Eugene, or the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at the University of Oregon.