Heat deaths reported in California and Oregon
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Heat deaths reported in California and Oregon

According to the Associated Press, five people have died as a result of the heat wave currently sweeping across the United States.

Context

Excessively high temperatures prompted widespread heat warnings, affecting more than 146 million people across the United States.

Western states are particularly hard hit, with the highest temperatures recorded there. The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a heat warning, warning citizens that temperatures could reach 105 degrees Fahrenheit or higher in areas where more than 35 million people live.

Heat deaths reported in California and Oregon
A sign reading “Heat Kills!” is seen during a prolonged heat wave that affected much of California on July 8, 2024, in Death Valley National Park in California. Park visitors were warned to “Travel prepared…


Mario Tama/Getty Images Entertainment/GC Images

According to the NWS, heat-related illnesses cause at least 1,000 deaths a year.

Children, older people, pregnant women and people with disabilities are more likely to become ill during extreme heat.

Symptoms of heat illness can include muscle cramps, headaches, nausea, confusion and loss of consciousness.

People are advised to stay hydrated and wear loose clothing. Access to air conditioning can reduce the risk of illness. People who are outdoors are advised to take frequent breaks in shaded areas.

What do we know

The recent heat wave was particularly devastating in the Pacific Northwest and California.

In Oregon, four suspected heat-related deaths occurred in the Portland area. The Associated Press reported that three of the deaths were in people between the ages of 64 and 84.

Heat was also the suspected cause of death in the death of a 33-year-old man taken to a hospital in Portland, AP reported.

Portland has seen record high temperatures for several consecutive days, with the NWS forecast predicting a high of 103 F on Tuesday.

The intense heat is forecast to continue into Tuesday evening, potentially setting more records. NWS meteorologist Hannah Chandler-Cooley said in a statement: “We are looking at the possibility of more records being broken.”

ABC News also reported that a motorcyclist died of hypothermia in California’s Death Valley, where temperatures reached a staggering 127.94 degrees Fahrenheit over the weekend.

The park still attracts hundreds of tourists, despite this desolate region being considered one of the hottest places on Earth.

The NWS issued its highest alert, an excessive heat warning, for states including California, Nevada, Arizona, Oregon, Washington and Idaho. Cities including Las Vegas and Phoenix also saw historically high temperatures, increasing the risk of heat-related illness and death.

Man is cooling down
A person relaxes during the Waterfront Blues Festival on Friday, July 5, 2024 in Portland, Oregon.

AP/Jenny Kane

What’s next?

The NWS has issued a warning of an increased risk of wildfires in the Western states, according to ABC News. The heat wave could lead to a more active wildfire season due to increased evaporation rates and drying soil.

In Santa Barbara, in Southern California, residents were ordered to evacuate from areas where a wildfire has spread to nearly 52 square miles (83 square kilometers). The evacuation orders included Michael Jackson’s former Neverland Ranch, according to the Associated Press.

In a statement released on X, the NWS said, “Dangerous heat continues across much of the West this week, with many locations seeing record high temperatures.”

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