Summer heat hits the Willamette Valley this weekend

EUGENE, Ore. -- August starts off as a scorcher after a mild-July in the Willamette Valley. The National Weather Service issued an excessive heat warning for a majority of western Oregon.

As KVAL weather reporter Kristina Nelson explains, high pressure in the valley is pushing the cooler weather off the coast which will bring temperatures into the 90s for Saturday and Sunday. Moisture will creep in from the south and make for a humid Sunday evening, possibly creating thunderstorms.

With these higher temps a lot of folks will likely head outdoors to enjoy the sunshine. The Parks & Recreation department in Portland released some safety tips to help people safely enjoy the sun.

Drink Enough Water

Avoid overheating. Dehydration is classified as mild, moderate, or severe based on how much of the body's fluid is lost or not replenished. Stay hydrated.

Our bodies are comprised of 70% fluid and without maintaining regular water intake, we can get into serious trouble. Our bodies need more than the normal 8 cups of water a day when it's hot outside. Increase water intake even more if you are working, exercising or playing when it's hot out.

When severe, dehydration can lead to a life-threatening emergency also known as heat stroke. Heat emergencies fall into three categories of increasing severity: heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heatstroke, a life-threatening condition.

Heat illnesses are easily preventable by taking precautions in hot weather.

Children, elderly, and obese people have a higher risk of developing heat illness. People taking certain medications or drinking alcohol also have a higher risk. However, even a top athlete in superb condition can succumb to heat illness if he or she ignores the warning signs.

If the problem isn't addressed, heat cramps (caused by loss of salt from heavy sweating) can lead to heat exhaustion (caused by dehydration), which can progress to heatstroke. Heatstroke, the most serious of the three, can cause shock, brain damage, organ failure, and even death.

Heat stroke can be a life-threatening condition.

Skin Protection

Too much sun can hurt! Protect the skin from the direct sun by wearing large brim hats, long sleeve/ long pants - lightweight clothing and use sunscreen. Another great option is to seek shade under a tree in one of our many great parks.

Keeping Your House Cool

Creating a cool environment in your home can provide an oasis from the heat. Opening windows in the early morning and in the evening can let cooler temperatures indorrs when the sun isn't heating things up. Closing blinds or drapes during the warmest parts of the day can also keep the sunlight from heating up your home.

One surefire way to help your home stay cool is to save the use of heat-producing appliances (like ovens, dishwashers and clothes driers) until after dark. Firing up the grill, washing dishes by hand and hanging clothes to dry in the sun are energy-efficient ways to reduce a reliance on the air conditioning unit.

Food Poisoning Prevention

Keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. When hot foods cool & cold foods get lukewarm, bacteria thrive. This is especially challenging in the heat of summer as food tend to migrate towards the DANGER zone where bacteria can grow very quickly in the exposed food, especially foods with mayonnaise, milk, eggs and meat.

With the high temperatures comes a higher concentration of ground-level ozone, or smog, that can result in health problems for some people, Lane Regional Air Protection Agency said.

The increased ozone presence can causing coughing, sore throat and tightening in the chest. It also wreaks havoc on the respiratory system by reducing lung function, aggravated asthma and difficulty breathing.

LRAPA officials also recommend reducing car trips, using gas-powered lawn equipment, reducing the use of paints and solvents and using public transportation.

The organization offers an hourly track of ozone levels at their website.

Temperatures are predicted to drop to moderate levels early next week as onshore flows bring ocean air back into the valley.

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