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Cooling shelters open for elderly

Even though it’s cooled down the past couple of days, Multnomah County has opened four area cooling shelters, one in Gresham, for the elderly or those who are physically fragile. The centers opened Sunday, July 13, and will remain open through Thursday, July 17.

The Gresham cooling center is open from 4-8 p.m. at the Ambleside Meals on Wheels People office in the Multnomah County East Building at 600 N.E. Eighth St., 503-988-3840.

Cooling centers for the elderly are activated when the forecast calls for 95-degree heat for three days or more in a row.

The Centers for Disease Control states that heat-related deaths and illness are preventable, yet many people die each year. Heat waves kill more people than hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and earthquakes combined, and young children and older adults are most at risk. Other risk factors for heat-related deaths include living alone, lack of air-conditioning and use of certain medications.

Climate change will bring more heat waves to the United States, says the CDC website. “ If current emissions hold steady, excess heat-related deaths in the U.S. could climb from an average of about 700 each year currently to between 3,000 and 5,000 per year by 2050.”

Effective strategies for protecting the elderly and ill during a heat wave include getting them into air conditioning. Friends and family should check on elderly and homebound neighbors, relatives and friends, because sometimes a fan is not enough.

According to the Multnomah County Aging and Disability Services Division, another method for staying cool is to encourage older people to slow down, and take them to visit an air-conditioned mall or go to a movie.

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