ashland.news
July 14, 2024

Oregon governor declares heat emergency as officials distribute water, operate cooling centers

A National Weather Service graphic warns of excessive heat through Tuesday. Forecast highs in Ashland for Sunday through Thursday, respectively, are 105, 106, 103, 96 and 94.
July 6, 2024

Ashland residents can get out of the heat at cooling center on Ashland Street and at Ashland library

By Lynne Terry, Oregon Capital Chronicle

Oregon is in the midst of its first extreme heat wave of the summer, with temperatures soaring into the triple digits.

The forecast prompted Gov. Tina Kotek to declare an extreme heat emergency through Tuesday.

“Extreme weather events are now the new normal for Oregon. Right now, state and local governments are on a path to strengthen our preparedness and response, not only this year but for the years to come,” Kotek said. 

She urged the public to be careful.

“Both the record-breaking temperatures and the duration of heat present a clear and present danger, particularly for children, elders, people with disabilities and people who work outside,” Kotek said. “I am urging Oregonians to take every precaution and check on your family and neighbors.”

Throughout the emergency, the Oregon Department of Emergency Management will coordinate with other state agencies to address heat-related needs across the state and marshal resources to mitigate the effects of the heat. Agencies have opened cooling centers as well. The public can find the resources in their county, including the location of cooling centers and transportation, by calling 211 or checking 211info.org. And if someone is having a medical emergency, call 911, officials said.

Ashland severe weather shelter open
The city of Ashland cooling center at the severe weather shelter from noon to 7 p.m. each day through Sunday, July 7, at 2200 Ashland St. The cooling center may remain open on July 8 and 9, depending on the heat wave and volunteer availability to staff the shelter.
The Ashland Public Library at 410 Siskiyou Blvd., is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays, and noon to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

“Our top priority is health and safety during this heat wave,” said Ed Flick, director of emergency management at the Oregon Department of Human Services.

The agency is working with community organizations to get water bottles to the public and ensure air conditioners are working. As of Thursday, the department had delivered nearly 1,200 cases of water to churches, shelters and other facilities. 

The Oregon Health Authority has been distributing air conditioning units to community-based organizations — it has delivered about 615 units so far — and since this spring, it has delivered air conditioning units and air filters to people through Medicaid, the Oregon Health Plan. Agency officials said they expect to deliver more than 1,500 units over the course of the heat wave.

Extreme heat can cause heat exhaustion and lead to heat stroke. Anyone experiencing heat exhaustion symptoms — dizziness, thirst, heavy sweating, nausea or weakness — should get to a cooler area, loosen or remove their clothing and sip on cool water. But don’t gulp it down, which can make the nausea worse.

If heat exhaustion is not treated, people can develop heat stroke, which can be life-threatening. Symptoms include confusion, dizziness or loss of consciousness — and often in addition to heat exhaustion symptoms. If someone near you is experiencing heat stroke, call 911 and get them to a cooler area, if possible, loosen their clothing and cool their body with water or ice while waiting for emergency services to arrive. 

Do not give a person experiencing heat stroke alcohol or liquids with caffeine, which can make the body more dehydrated, and do not give them aspirin,  ibuprofen or acetaminophen, which can aggravate symptoms.

To avoid getting sick:

  • Postpone or limit outdoor activities. If you have to work outdoors, take frequent breaks and avoid the hottest part of the day. Never leave children or pets in your vehicle alone.
  • Drink plenty of water and avoid sugary, caffeinated and alcoholic drinks. Check that animals also have access to fresh water and shade.
  • Escape from the heat by going to an air-conditioned place such as a public library, shopping mall or public cooling center. Check on loved ones and neighbors who may be at risk and don’t have air conditioning.
  • Organize a stay-at-home kit in case the power goes out. It should include things like batteries and chargers for flashlights, cell phones, sleep-apnea machines and wheelchairs. Have fresh water, nonperishable foods and medications on hand. 


Lynne Terry has more than 30 years of journalism experience, including a recent stint as editor of The Lund Report, a highly regarded health news site. She reported on health and food safety in her 18 years at The Oregonian, was a senior producer at Oregon Public Broadcasting and Paris correspondent for National Public Radio for nine years.

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Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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