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As Another Major Hot Spell Arrives, Concerns Rise Over Elder Oregonians

Swaminathan Jayaraman

With triple-digit highs expected across Oregon through Saturday, memories of last month’s deadly heat dome are prompting senior advocates to be vigilant.

Authorities say at least 116 Oregonians died in the late June hot spell.  Many were isolated, lacking air conditioning, and elderly.

Credit NOAA
Regional forecast map for the Pacific Northwest, showing areas to be hit with triple digit highs.

Bandana Shrestha is the state director for AARP Oregon.  She said it’s essential for older residents to keep cool, hydrated, and informed.

“Tune into your radio. Stay informed by looking at how the heat index is going up,” said Shrestha.

“For those people who especially rely on mediation or CPAP machines, if there’s an electric outage that could be really deadly. So being aware of what’s going on is really important for those folks and for caregivers who have family members who use those devices.”

Shrestha said having relatives or neighbors check in on elders is important. And if they lack AC, to invite them over during the peak temperatures.  People should avoid cooking, strenuous activity, and dehydration.

“People should be drinking water and not when you get thirsty, but ahead of time,” added Shrestha. “Unless you have physicians saying, ‘Don’t drink a lot of water, you should avoid that.’ But staying hydrated generally for a lot of people is a good thing to do.”

Cooling centers can be found online at many city and county government sites as well.

Copyright 2021, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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