Know the signs of heat-related illnesses
Symptoms of dehydration:
• Dry or sticky mouth
• Lethargy or coma (with severe dehydration)
• Low or no urine output; urine looks dark yellow
• No tears
• Sunken eyes
• Sunken fontanelles (the soft spot on the top of the head) in an infant
• Vomiting, diarrhea, or the feeling that you “can’t keep anything down.”
Symptoms of heat stroke:
• Fever (temperature above 104 °F)
• Irrational behavior
• Extreme confusion
• Dry, hot, and red skin
• Rapid, shallow breathing
• Rapid, weak pulse
Call 911 when:
• A person loses consciousness at any time.
• There is any other change in the person’s alertness (for example, confusion or seizures).
• The person has a fever over 102 °F.
• Other symptoms of heatstroke are present (like rapid pulse or rapid breathing).
• The person’s condition does not improve, or worsens despite treatment.
Source: Camas-Washougal Fire Department
Most of us in the Northwest welcome the summer weather with open arms. It can be a pleasant respite after seemingly endless gray skies and showers.However, when the temperatures get into the high 80s and 90s, it can become rather uncomfortable for those without air conditioning.
Thankfully, Washougal and Camas have a variety of options to beat the heat, whether it’s sitting in a shaded park, eating senior lunches in the community centers or taking a dip at the local outdoor pool.
Last Tuesday, as the mercury hit 90, the Camas Municipal Pool became a welcome respite for kids, teens and families.
It was the first trip to the facility for Rachel Craft, who said she was enjoying the break from her non air-conditioned house.
“I love it here,” said the mother of five children, ages 21 months to 11 years. “We have a smaller pool in the backyard, but it is better to come here because all the kids can swim at the same time.”
Her family beats the heat at home by watching movies on the backyard projector built by her husband.
“It’s our entertainment,” she said. “Instead of staying inside the warm house, we sit on our trampoline and have family movie night.”
Her friend, Jennifer Cody, took her family on a hike in the Gorge when it began warming up.
“I know it doesn’t sound like it would be nice, but if you’re under the tree cover, it’s nice and cool,” she said. “We hiked near some waterfalls and you could feel the spray. It was very refreshing.” Cody and Craft also recommended attending movies at the air-conditioned Liberty Theatre in downtown Camas.
“It’s only $3.50 and there is a pretty good selection,” Craft said.
Chrissy Goecks and David Mackie took advantage of the air-conditioning and free Wi-Fi at the Camas Public Library.
“It’s my second day in a row here,” Goecks said, as she did research on her laptop. “I really like it here because it is quiet, comfortable and cool. I don’t have internet at my house, so I use it here.”
At the Washougal Community Center, seniors enjoyed a hot lunch in air-conditioned comfort.
Camas resident David Sanks, who doesn’t have air conditioning, had a few recommendations to share.
“Stay indoors and keep the fans running,” he said. “And have a cold beverage.”
Nick Swinhart, Camas-Washougal Fire Department chief, noted that those using local waterways should be very cautious.
“The start of summer and nicer weather will bring more people out on to the waterways and other wilderness areas,“ he said. “CWFD would like to use this opportunity to remind all area residents that despite the return of warm weather, local bodies of water are significantly colder than may be thought and currents are always faster than assumed.”
He added that those using forested canyons in the area, such as the Potholes at Lacamas Creek, or areas on the Washougal River, should also exercise an abundance of caution.
“Access is typically very slippery and one wrong step can mean the difference between fun and tragedy,” he said. “Use all available safety devices when on the local waterways, and when exploring local forests and canyons stay out of unsafe areas and always let a responsible person know where you’ll be and when you plan to return.”
Last summer, when temperatures began in soar, local air-conditioned fire stations were made available to the public as cooling centers. In addition, the department opened a fire hydrant in a Washougal park for children to play in.
“We do not currently have formal plans for bringing out a truck or opening any fire hydrants to the purposes of cooling off,” he said. “We have done this in the past and will consider it again as conditions warrant.”