Mother Nature turned up the heat on the Portland metro area this week, prompting the National Weather Service to issue an Excessive Heat Warning that was expected to remain in effect through late Friday night.
Forecasters' predictions of record temperatures proved true, with thermometers hitting 102 on Wednesday and 105 (one of Portland's 10 hottest days ever) on Thursday. The best guess for Friday: 101 degrees, capping off a blistering week in which thermometers flirted with triple digits on Tuesday and then just kept rising.
Earlier in the week, KOIN 6 News meteorologist Steve Pierce had said the heat wave had the potential to rival the one in August 1981, when Portland set its all-time record of 107 degrees.
"The last significant heat wave in Portland was in July of 2009," Pierce said, "when the Portland Airport reached 106 degrees two days in a row."
According to the National Weather Service, there have only been seven instances of Portland having three days in a row of 100-plus temperatures since 1940 — and only two instances of four days in a row.
Add in the hazy skies caused by smoke from brush fires in British Columbia and, well, it all made for a stifling few days.
"I got in my car this morning and the thermometer said 116," Lake Oswego resident Brandy Williams told The Review. "That's just crazy heat."
It was so hot in Lake Oswego this week that Republic Services said it would begin collecting garbage at 5 a.m. Wednesday in an effort to keep crews cool and prevent their trucks from overheating. On the Wizer Block, project officials said crews working on The Windward would try to stay hydrated and planned to keep to the shade as much as possible; the same was true for workers who were coating roads with slurry all around the city.
Classes through the Community School continued as scheduled, but some of the Lake Oswego School District's fields were closed from Tuesday through the end of the week.
"Because of the heat, we will be closing the turf fields to school and public programs," said Christine Moses, executive director of communications. "When the heat is over 90 degrees, we ask people to not use the fields. Temps range from 5 to 10 degrees higher on those turf fields."
Wednesday night's Sounds of Summer concert in Westlake Park was scheduled to take the stage as planned, although music lovers were urged to bring umbrellas, spray bottles and lots of liquids. Jan Wirtz, the recreation supervisor for Lake Oswego Parks & Rec, said most of the department's daytime camps, classes and lessons also were not affected.
All of the evening playoff games for the City's adult slow-pitch softball league were canceled, though, as was the Wednesday-night drop-in basketball session at Palisades, the Thursday-night Skyhawks mini-camp, and adult lessons at the tennis center on both Wednesday and Thursday nights.
To help local residents beat the heat, Clackamas County opened cooling centers throughout the area, including one at the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center (505 G Ave.; 503-635-3758). It will be open from 8 a.m.-7 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday and 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. on Friday, and the ACC may extend its cooling-center hours into the weekend if temperatures remain high.
Citizen Information Specialist Bonnie Hirshberger said the air-conditioned Lake Oswego Public Library (706 Fourth St.; 503-636-7628) would also offer refuge from the heat — from 10 a.m.-9 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 1-6 p.m. on Sunday.
Lake Oswego residents can also cool off at the Lake Oswego Swim Park (250 Ridgeway Road), Hirshberger said. Park amenities include water shooters, organized inner tube polo, park chairs and chaise lounges, picnic tables and covered areas. The park is open seven days a week, from 1-6 p.m., and there's no admission charge.
Or they could check out the beach at George Rogers Park (611 S. State St.), where guests can swim or rent kayaks, canoes and stand-up paddle boards from Alder Creek Kayak Canoe. Rentals are available from 10 a.m.-8 p.m., seven days a week. For details, visit aldercreek.com/about-us/locations/lake-oswego-kayak-rentals.
Meanwhile, county officials urged residents who planned to be outdoors to take precautions and protect themselves and others from sun exposure and the heat. Tips include:
• Avoid the sun and strenuous activity, especially from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• If possible, go to an air-conditioned building for several hours during the hottest parts of the day. Participate in activities that will keep you cool, such as going to the movies, shopping at the mall or cooling off at a pool or beach.
• Wear a wide-brimmed hat and light-colored, lightweight and loose-fitting clothes.
• Set your air conditioner. If you don't have air conditioning, take a cool shower twice a day and visit a public air-conditioned facility.
• Drink plenty of fluids, even if you are not thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine. Those on fluid-restricted diets or taking diuretics should first consult their physician.
• Use sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 14 if planning on sun exposure.
• Stay in shaded areas whenever working outdoors.
• Check on older adults or persons with disabilities in your community who may need help coping with the heat.
• Be sure your pets have plenty of water and shaded areas.
Keep your pets cool, too
This week's hot weather is not only uncomfortable for people, but it's also dangerous for dogs, cats and other pets. Here are some tips from the Oregon Humane Society for keeping pets safe in the heat:
• DON'T leave your pet alone in the car. The inside of a car heats up to dangerous temperatures in minutes. On an 85-degree day, a car's interior temperature can climb to 120 degrees in 20 minutes, even with the windows slightly open.
• DON'T walk, jog or play fetch with your dog during the heat of the day. Instead, walk and play with your pets in the cool of the evening and morning.
• DON'T let Fido ride in an uncovered pickup bed in the heat of the day. The sun heats up the metal truck bed and can burn a pet's paw pads.
• DON'T leave pets unattended outside when it gets too hot — bring pets inside.
• DO keep your pets inside the house, with plenty of water. The best place for your pet to be during the heat of the day is inside with you — especially if you have an air conditioner or fan.
• DO give outside pets lots of shade and plenty of water to drink if it is not possible to bring them indoors.
• DO get a kiddie pool and fill it with water for your dogs to splash and play in. They will love it.
Symptoms of heatstroke in pets could include restlessness, excessive thirst, heavy panting, lethargy, lack of appetite, dark red tongue or gums, vomiting, and lack of coordination. Contact your veterinarian if your pet exhibits these symptoms.
If your pet is overcome by heat exhaustion, immediately immerse or spray the animal with cool running water (avoid cold water as that could cause shock) and continue until the body temperature lowers. Give your pet water to drink and consult your veterinarian right away to determine if additional treatment is needed.
If you suspect an emergency situation has developed and you see someone else's animal in immediate danger from the heat, first consult the owner if possible and then contact your local animal control agency or police department.
More information about heat hazards for pets can be found online at oregonhumane.org/hot-weather-safety-for-pets-resources.
How to treat heat-related illnesses
During heat waves, people are susceptible to several heat-related conditions, and Clackamas County Health Officer Dr. Sarah Present says it's important to know the warning signs.
"Dizziness, nausea, headaches, rapid heartbeat, chest pain, fainting and breathing problems are all signs that help should be sought immediately," she says.
Present adds that it's also a good idea to monitor those who are vulnerable when temperatures begin to rise.
"Extreme heat can be dangerous, especially to infants, the elderly, outdoor laborers, those with preexisting health conditions and those who do not have access to relief from high temperatures," she says. "Infants are less able to regulate their body temperatures and people with underlying health conditions may be less able to adapt to the heat. Many medications can contribute to dehydration."
Here's how to recognize and respond to them, according to the American Red Cross:
• Heat Cramps: Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms that usually occur in the legs or abdomen. Heat cramps are often an early sign that the body is having trouble with the heat. Get the person to a cooler place and have him or her rest in a comfortable position. Lightly stretch the affected muscle. Give an electrolyte-containing fluid, such as a sports drink. Water may also be given.
• Heat Exhaustion: Heat exhaustion is a more severe condition than heat cramps. Heat exhaustion often affects athletes, firefighters and construction workers. It also affects those wearing heavy clothing in a hot, humid environment. Signs of heat exhaustion include cool, moist, pale, ashen or flushed skin; headache; nausea; dizziness; weakness; and exhaustion.
Move the person to a cooler environment with circulating air. Remove or loosen as much clothing as possible and apply cool, wet towels to the skin. Fanning or spraying the person with water also can help. If the person is conscious, give small amounts of a cool fluid such as a sports drink or fruit juice to restore fluids and electrolytes. Give about 4 ounces of fluid every 15 minutes. If the person's condition does not improve or if he or she refuses water, has a change in consciousness, or vomits, call 9-1-1.
• Heat Stroke: Heat stroke is a life-threatening condition that usually occurs by ignoring the signals of heat exhaustion. Heat stroke develops when the body systems are overwhelmed by heat and begin to stop functioning. Signs of heat stroke include extremely high body temperature, red skin which may be dry or moist; changes in consciousness; rapid, weak pulse; rapid, shallow breathing; confusion; vomiting; and seizures.
Heat stroke is life-threatening. Call 9-1-1 immediately if you believe someone is suffering from this condition. Rapidly cool the body by immersing the person up to the neck in cold water, if possible OR douse or spray the person with cold water. Cover the person with bags of ice or cold, wet towels. If you are not able to measure and monitor the person's temperature, apply rapid cooling methods for 20 minutes or until the person's condition improves.