Tribal Government & News

Excessive heat forecast prompts warnings


By Nicole Montesano

Smoke Signals staff writer

With an excessive heat warning is in effect from noon on Thursday, July 4 to 11 p.m. Sunday, July 7, with temperatures projected to hit at least the mid-90s, Tribal Resiliency Officer Kaylene Barry issued a reminder this week for people to stay cool and hydrated.

Barry also reminded people to never to leave children, elders or pets in vehicles and to handle fireworks with caution.

“The safest plan is to watch a professionally coordinated firework show, like the one in Willamina,” Barry said in an email to Tribal employees. “If you do choose to use fireworks at home, we encourage you to be cautious and considerate. Fireworks can quickly turn a fun celebration into an emergency. While fires and burns are the largest concern, other injuries can also occur such as injuries from flying debris. Children are at the highest risk of injury, so please keep a close eye on kids and restrict the type of fireworks they are allowed to use.”

The National Weather Service said on its website that projected weather models were continuing to show disagreement about the extent of the heat wave, with predictions for temperatures reaching 105 or higher in Salem ranging from 35% to 75%.

Overnight temperatures are expected to remain high as well, making it harder for people to recover from daytime heat.

“Be sure to do everything you can to stay cool during the upcoming heatwave and don’t forget to check on your neighbors and loved ones from time to time,” the Weather Service website said. “If you must work outdoors, avoid doing so during the peak heating timeframe, from noon to 5 p.m. Never leave pets or people inside a hot car and ensure your pets stay cool during this heatwave as well. Walking your dog in the afternoon will not be a good idea.”

Hot asphalt and concrete can burn paws, the website said.

Tribal Fire Management and Protection Program Manager Andrew Puerini told employees in an email that the Tribe’s Natural Resources Department will patrol the Reservation forest and the Grand Ronde community over the holiday weekend. Anyone observing fire or significant smoke should call 911 immediately, Puerini said.

The weather forecast as of Tuesday called for temperatures around 87 on July 4, but increasing to 95 Friday and Saturday, July 5-6, with overnight temperatures remaining in the low to mid-60s. On Sunday, the forecast called for slight cooling, with a high of around 88, followed by 84 on Monday.

Barry noted that factors such as high humidity, dehydration, prescription drug use, heart disease, sunburn and alcohol use can increase the risk of developing heat-related illness. Warning signs include high body temperature, hot, red, dry or damp skin, fast, strong pulse, headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion and loss of consciousness.

Older adults, young children and people suffering from mental illness or chronic disease are at highest risk. Staying as cool as possible and hydrated are important prevention measures, Barry said.

Pets and livestock will also require access to deep shade and fresh, cold water.

Recreation Coordinator Leo Ayala noted in an email to employees that the gym will be open for people needing to get out of the heat. The gym is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday and 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday to Sunday.

Barry said that Emergency Management will be on hand to establish a cooling shelter if temperatures exceed 95 degrees. If the need for a shelter arises, staff should contact Brandy Bishop at 503-879-1837.

Barry also reminded the community to exercise caution with fireworks. Young children should never be allowed to handle fireworks, she said.

Other precautions include:

  • Never hold lit fireworks in your hand.
  • Never use fireworks while impaired by drugs or alcohol.
  • Never point or throw fireworks at another person or an animal.
  • Never ignite fireworks in a container.
  • Do not re-light malfunctioning fireworks.
  • Keep a bucket or water or a hose nearby to fully extinguish fireworks that failed to ignite.
  • Soak spent and unused fireworks in water for a few hours before discarding.
  • Never use illegal fireworks.
  • Because sparklers burn at about 200 degrees, consider safer alternatives like confetti poppers or glow sticks.