As heat wave enters what could be its most dangerous phase yet, officials renew calls to check on loved ones and at-risk neighbors

July 29, 2022

The Portland area is entering what could be the most dangerous phase yet in what’s already becoming a historically long and life-threatening heat wave, with forecasts showing some of the hottest potential daytime and nighttime temperatures yet. 

With forecasts showing temperatures potentially topping 100 degrees through Saturday, and with some forecasts showing nighttime temperatures never falling below 70 degrees, four overnight cooling shelters will remain open at least through Sunday morning, July 31. 

A guest gets some help at Sunrise Center cooling center, July 28, 2022

The City of Portland and Multnomah County are continuing to monitor weather forecasts, with a plan to keep cooling services available and add capacity as needed as long as forecasts indicate they are necessary.

As the heat wave stretches on, officials are urging friends and family to check in frequently on people who are older, who live alone or don't have air conditioning.

Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and health officials are asking housing providers to redouble their efforts to contact their residents and offer resources, and they are asking community members to reach out to their loved ones and neighbors.

“This is the time for our whole community to pay attention to this threat,” said Dr. Ann Loeffler, Multnomah County Health Officer. “Individuals should watch their bodies, move to a cool place, keep hydrated and seek care even if it's awkward. For people fortunate enough to be healthy and feel well and have a place to stay cool, help your neighbor. Identify two people you can check on, bring to a cool place, and generally help them find resources.”

On Thursday alone, the City of Portland and Multnomah County, through their Everbridge Alert system, issued more than 425,000 calls and text messages to Multnomah County residents associated with heat islands and other higher-risk parts of the community. Nearly 10,000 calls and text messages were also made directly to residents in mobile home communities earlier in the week.  

Earlier this summer, Environmental Health officials contacted 300 multifamily buildings most at-risk, offering information on how to check on residents and help residents stay cool and get to cooling spaces as needed when heat events arrive.

“We’re working to provide transportation and shelters for people struggling to cope with this long hot spell. But we need help to reach those most at risk,” said Jonna Papaefthimiou, chief resilience officer for the City of Portland.  

“Hopefully our calls will prompt neighbors, friends, and grandchildren to check on someone they care about. Together we can prevent more heat deaths this summer.” 

The Multnomah County Medical Examiner’s Program has reported three suspected hyperthermia deaths. Investigators say confirmation of the cause of death will not be complete for several weeks to months.

The City of Portland’s Bureau of Emergency Communications answered 29 heat-related calls Thursday, with a total of 100 heat-related calls since Sunday, July 24. Emergency medical services responded to 22 heat-related calls Thursday, and 73 since Sunday, July 24.

Emergency department visits for heat illness also remain high. Hospitals treated 10 people for heat illness on Thursday, and 32 people since the heatwave began. 

Ozone levels also remain high, which when combined with the heat, can present additional challenges for people with certain health conditions.  

Roughly 220 people sought relief at overnight cooling shelters on Thursday, July 28, roughly 70% capacity for all four overnight shelters in Multnomah County. As of the morning Friday, July 29, staff were actively reconfiguring current shelter space to add capacity, following an expansion earlier in the week.

Cooling shelters

Overnight cooling shelters are open at the following locations:

Cooling centers and libraries

A daytime cooling center will remain open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday at the following location:

If someone needs a free ride to somewhere cool, call 2-1-1. TriMet is also offering free rides to cool spaces for anyone who cannot afford to pay fare.

Two libraries are extending their open hours until 9 p.m. through Saturday:

Find these and all locations and hours on the Multnomah County Library website.

People can also find misting stations, pools, community centers and other cool community spaces on the County’s interactive map.

Transportation

Anyone who needs a free ride to a cool space can also dial 2-1-1 or take TriMet.

During this emergency, TriMet will not turn away anyone riding to a cool place who cannot afford to pay fare. TriMet asks riders to let their driver know they are headed to a cool place.

When riding transit during extreme heat, riders will want to plan extra time and check trimet.org/alerts before traveling, as there may be heat-related delays to service.

Outreach continues 

Outreach teams and mutual aid groups continue to work hard to reach people in the community. 

Since July 19, the Joint Office of Homeless Services’ downtown supply center has distributed over 104,000 bottles of water, 794 gallons of water, 2,620 refillable bottles of water, more than 6,000 cooling towels and over 13,000 electrolyte packets. 

Appointments to pick up supplies are available today, July 29, and Saturday, July 30, for groups who are doing outreach to people experiencing unsheltered homelessness. Email JOHSSupplies@multco.us to contact the Joint Office about available pick-up appointments.

Organizations and programs such as Cascadia Behavioral Health’s Street Outreach Team, JOIN’s Night Outreach, Cultivate InitiativesMultnomah County’s Department of Community Justice Mental Health Mobile Unit and the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office HOPE Team are making contact with people in the community, providing supplies and information about cooling locations and resources. 

Bookmark these links

211info: Dial 2-1-1 to find cool spaces near you and for transportation support.

National Weather Service: Check the forecast and plan outdoor activities for the coolest times of day.

Cool places in Multnomah County: Find a library, community center, pool or splash pad near you. 

Cool places in Clackamas County: Find cool spaces in Clackamas County.

Cool places in Washington County: Find cool spaces in Washington County.