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Extreme Heat
Image of child wearing sun protection

A heat wave is an extended period of extreme heat, and is often accompanied by high humidity. These conditions can be dangerous and even life-threatening if you don't take the proper precautions.

Average temperatures from 2000-2009 statewide in Oregon

77°F  

Average day time high temperature

 50°F  

Average night time low temperature

 37.2   

Average number of days above 85°F

 1.7  

Average number of days above 100°F

 110°F 

Highest average temperature in the state


What to do during extreme heat events 

  • Regardless of your level of activity, drink plenty of fluids - even if you are not thirsty and especially when working outside. 
  • Drink fruit juice or sports drinks to replace salts and minerals.
  • Limit exposure to the sun from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. when UV rays are strongest. Try to schedule activities in the morning and evening.          
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing to keep cool and protect your skin from the sun.
  • Use sunscreen with at least SPF 15. Apply it at least 10 minutes before going outside and re-apply every two hours.
  • Use fans as needed.
  • Open windows to allow fresh air to circulate, especially during morning and evening hours, and close shades on west-facing windows during the afternoon hours.
  • Use cool compresses, misting, showers and baths.
  • Avoid hot foods and heavy meals; they add heat to the body.  
  • Never leave infants or children in a parked car. Nor should pets be left in parked cars - they can suffer heat-related illness too.
  • Dress infants and children in loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.


Know the warning signs and symptoms of heat-related illness

Muscle cramping might be the first sign of heat-related illness, and may lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Here is how you can recognize heat exhaustion and heat stroke and what to do:

Heat Exhaustion What you should do
Heavy sweating Move to a cooler location.
Weakness Lie down and loosen your clothing.
Cold, pale, clammy skin Apply cool, wet cloths to as much of your body as possible.
Fast, weak pulse Sip water.
Nausea or vomiting, fainting If you have vomited and it continues, seek medical attention immediately.

Heat stroke

What you should Do

High body temperature (above 103°F) Call 911 immediately - this is a medical emergency.
Hot, red, dry or moist skin Move the person to a cooler environment.
Rapid and strong pulse Reduce the person's body temperature with cool cloths or even a bath.
Possible unconsciousness Do NOT give fluids.
 
Heat and people with chronic medical conditions

People with a chronic medical condition are less likely to sense and respond to changes in temperature. Also, they may be taking medications that can worsen the impact of extreme heat. People in this category need the following information.

Closely monitor people who depend on you for their care:

  1. Are they drinking enough water?
  2. Do they have access to air conditioning?
  3. Do they know how to keep cool?
  • Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.
  • Check on a friend or neighbor, and have someone do the same for you.
  • Check the local news for health and safety updates regularly.
  • Don’t use the stove or oven to cook - it will make you and your house hotter.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Take cool showers or baths to cool down.
  • Seek medical care immediately if you or someone you know experiences symptoms of heat-related illness.
  • Fact sheet for healthcare providers: Caring for vulnerable populations during extreme heat  


Heat and athletes

People who exercise in extreme heat are more likely to become dehydrated and get heat-related illness.

  • Limit outdoor activity, especially midday when the sun is hottest.
  • Wear and reapply sunscreen as indicated on the package.
  • Schedule workouts and practices earlier or later in the day when the temperature is cooler.
  • Pace activity. Start activities slow and pick up the pace gradually.
  • Drink more water than usual and don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink more. Muscle cramping may be an early sign of heat-related illness.
  • Monitor a teammate’s condition, and have someone do the same for you.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Seek medical care immediately if you or a teammate has symptoms of heat-related illness.

Heat and outdoor workers

People who work outdoors are more likely to become dehydrated and are more likely to get heat-related illness.

  • Drink from two to four cups of water every hour while working. Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink.
  • Avoid alcohol or liquids containing large amounts of sugar.
  • Wear and reapply sunscreen as indicated on the package.
  • Ask if tasks can be scheduled for earlier or later in the day to avoid midday heat.
  • Wear a brimmed hat and loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Spend time in air-conditioned buildings during breaks and after work.
  • Encourage co-workers to take breaks to cool off and drink water.
  • Seek medical care immediately if you or a co-worker has symptoms of heat-related illness. 
  • For more information, please visit: http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/heatstress.