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News Release: Lane County Public Health Reminds Community Members to Prepare for Labor Day Heat & Smoke

Lane County, Ore. – Temperatures are forecasted to be in the upper 90s over the holiday weekend and along with the high temperatures,air quality is likely to dip back into the “unhealthy” category. Due to the combination of heat, smoke, and the fact that people all over Lane County will likely be heading outdoors, Lane County Public Health is advising community members to take special precautions in order to keep themselves and their families safe and healthy.

 “When we see the temperatures start creeping up near 100 degrees and the air quality is poor, routine activities and chores can become dangerous, especially for the very old, very young, and individuals with chronic lung conditions,” said Lane County Chief Health Officer, Dr. Patrick Luedtke.

Additional factors which can exacerbate the effect high temperatures and poor air quality can have on the body include:

• Obesity
• Fever
• Dehydration
• Prescription drug use
• Illicit drug use (e.g., cocaine and amphetamine)
• Heart disease
• Mental illness
• Poor circulation
• Preexisting sunburn
• Alcohol use
• Exertion 

LCPH advises the following for avoiding Heat-Related Illness:

Wear Appropriate Clothing: Choose lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting clothing.

Stay Cool Indoors: Stay in an air-conditioned place as much as possible, especially from noon to about 7pm.  If your home does not have air conditioning, go to the shopping mall or public library (for a complete list of community cooling stations, see below)—even a few hours spent in air conditioning can help your body stay cooler when you go back into the heat.*

*Keep in mind: Electric fans may provide comfort, but when the temperature is in the high 90s, they may not prevent heat-related illness. Taking a cool shower or bath or moving to an air-conditioned place is a much better way to cool off. Use your stove and oven less to maintain a cooler temperature in your home.

Schedule Outdoor Activities Carefully: Try to limit your outdoor activity to when it’s coolest, like morning and evening hours. Rest often in shady areas so that your body has a chance to recover.

Pace Yourself: Cut down on exercise during the heat. If you’re not accustomed to working or exercising in a hot environment, start slowly and pick up the pace gradually. If exertion in the heat makes your heart pound and leaves you gasping for breath, STOP all activity. Get into a cool area or into the shade, and rest, especially if you become lightheaded, confused, weak, or faint.

Wear Sunscreen: Sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool down and can make you dehydrated. If you must go outdoors, protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and by putting on sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher 30 minutes prior to going out. Continue to reapply it according to the package directions.

Do Not Leave Children or Pets in Cars: Cars can quickly heat up to dangerous temperatures, even with a window cracked open. While anyone left in a parked car is at risk, infants and children are especially at risk of heat stroke and dying. When traveling with children or pets, remember to do the following:

•Never leave infants, children or pets in a parked car, even if the windows are cracked open.

•To remind yourself that a child is in the car, keep a stuffed animal in the car seat. When the child is buckled in, place the stuffed animal in the front with the driver.

•When leaving your car, check to be sure everyone is out of the car. Do not overlook any children who have fallen asleep in the car.

Drink Plenty of Fluids: Drink more fluids, regardless of how active you are. Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink.

*Stay away from sugary and alcoholic drinks—these may actually cause you to lose more body fluid. Also avoid very cold drinks, because they can cause stomach cramps.  In some persons caffeinated drinks may also increase the risk of heat-related illnesses.  If you are not a regular user of caffeinated drinks it may be best to avoid them during extreme heat events.

Replace Salt and Minerals: Heavy sweating removes salt and minerals from the body that need to be replaced. A sports drink can replace the salt and minerals you lose in sweat.

Keep Your Pets Hydrated: Provide plenty of fresh water for your pets, and leave the water in a shady area. Check their bowls often as they will drink more on a hot day.

Check for Updates: Check local news or online weather information for extreme heat alerts and safety tips and to learn about any cooling shelters in your area.

Know the Signs: Learn the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses and how to treat them.

Use a Buddy System: When working in the heat, monitor the condition of your co-workers and have someone do the same for you. Heat-induced illness can cause a person to become confused or lose consciousness. If you are 65 years of age or older, have a friend or relative call to check on you twice a day during a heat wave. If you know someone in this age group, check on them at least twice a day.

Monitor Those at High Risk: Although anyone at any time can suffer from heat-related illness, some people are at greater risk than others:

•Infants and young children

•People 65 years of age or older

•People who are overweight

•People who overexert during work or exercise

•People who are physically ill, especially with heart disease or high blood pressure, or who take certain medications, such as for depression, insomnia, or poor circulation

Visit adults at risk at least twice a day and closely watch them for signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Infants and young children, of course, need much more frequent watching.


Most communities in Lane County have at least one public place where community members can go during the hottest time of the day to cool down.  For a complete list, please visit:

LCPH advises the special considerations due to the likelihood of Poor Air Quality:

● Individuals who have preexisting lung conditions or who are very young or very old are advised to stay indoors if possible and close windows and doors

● During periods of poor air quality, everyone is encouraged to avoid strenuous outdoor activity.

● People exposed to smoky conditions and who suffer from asthma or other respiratory
problems should follow their breathing management plans or contact their healthcare

● Use high efficiency particulate air filters (HEPA filters) or electrostatic precipitator filters
(ESP filters) if you can. These can help clean indoor air.

People who must be outdoors may be considering the use of masks to help protect their lungs from wildfire smoke. Masks can create a false sense of security if not properly selected, fitted and used. 

Here are a few things you should know if you are considering the use of a mask:

• Avoid the use of surgical masks, bandanas and other common masks. Only specialized masks designed to filter out the tiny particles in smoky air can be effective. These are labeled as NIOSH-95 or NIOSH -100.

• Most people will find it difficult to use these specialized masks, called particulate
respirators, in a way that provides protection.

• Selecting the correct respirator size can be difficult.

• The fit of the respirator must be tested to make sure air does not leak around the sides.

• Leaking air means that exposure to smoke can still occur.

• Facial hair can cause the mask to not seal correctly.

• The masks can be uncomfortable. Even healthy adults may find that the increased effort required for breathing makes it uncomfortable to wear a respirator for more than short periods of time. Breathing may be even more difficult for those with heart and lung conditions.

• Decisions on whether to use respirators or masks as personal protection for people who must work outside should be made with the employer.

Jason Davis
Lane County H&HS 
Public Information Officer