Oregonians: Beat the heat with safety tips from a Regence medical expert

By Regence
July 30, 2021
Blazing noonday sun

Executive Medical Director Dr. Jim Polo shares advice as the state experiences another heat wave

As the temperature tops 100 degrees in some areas of Oregon over the next few days, medical experts are urging residents to be cautious.

On Thurs., July 29, Governor Kate Brown declared a state of emergency in 23 Oregon counties due to the dangerously hot weather expected this weekend.

“Overexposure to heat can have a negative impact on your health,” says Dr. Polo, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon’s Executive Medical Director. “It’s important to take steps to protect yourself and your family as temperatures rise.”

Increased temperatures—including extreme weather events like a heat wave—can cause heat exhaustion or heat stroke, which can be incredibly serious, especially for older adults and people with pre-existing, chronic conditions. Heat exhaustion occurs when your core body reaches and stays between 101- and 104-degrees Fahrenheit for a sustained period of time.

“Warning signs of heat exhaustion to look out for include excessive sweating, muscle weakness, nausea, vomiting and feeling faint,” says Polo. “If you’re core body temperature stays above 104 degrees, you may be experiencing heat stroke, which can be incredibly serious if immediate action isn’t taken.”

Stay safe in the heat with these simple tips

While heat exhaustion and heat stroke are serious conditions, they are also preventable. Keep in mind these simple tips from Dr. Polo to stay safe during hot summer temperatures:

  • Avoid exercising outside during the hottest part of the day, typically between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Instead, plan your outdoor activities in the early morning hours or late evening to avoid unnecessary heat exposure.
  • Drink plenty of water. The average adult needs 3 to 4 liters of water each day—and during periods of excessive heat, plan to drink more than that as your body dehydrates more rapidly.
  • Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing. Wearing excess clothing or clothing that fits tightly won't allow your body to cool down.
  • Take steps to keep your home cool. This can include keeping your windows and doors closed during the day to prevent the heat from coming in. Try to avoid using the oven when you’re cooking. If you don’t have air conditioning, you can still keep cool with a fan to circulate the air. 

Check out this video for additional heat safety tips from Dr. Polo: