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As Oregon heads to hot weekend, officials warn of water dangers

Lifeguard Andrew Fox practices a river rescue at Glenn Otto Park in Troutdale.
Kristian Foden-Vencil
Lifeguard Andrew Fox practices a river rescue at Glenn Otto Park in Troutdale.

Authorities are warning people about chilly river temperatures as the heat begins to build this weekend.

After months of grey skies and rain, temperatures are forecast to reach well into the 90s.

National Weather Service meteorologist John Bumgardner in Portland said a ridge of high pressure is expected to arrive Friday and peak on Sunday.

The NWS Medford office forecast in a Facebook post a hot weekend for southern Oregon and northern California, as well.

"There is a 60% chance of reaching 100 degrees or more for the West Side Valleys and a 70% chance of reaching 90 degrees for the East Side Valleys ... The Umpqua Valley has an 85% chance of reaching 90 degrees this weekend."

Oregon State Marine Board practices water rescue training.
Oregon State Marine Board /
Oregon State Marine Board practices water rescue training.

People may try and stay cool by going swimming, but Bumgardner warns jumping into 50-degree water can be dangerous.

“They actually experience cold water shock and we’ve had people die as a result of that,” he said.

Oregon Search and Rescue Coordinator Scott Lucas warns people to be prepared before heading outdoors to any location.

“Our SAR teams have rescued many folks who have a certain idea of the outdoors based on what they’ve seen on reality TV,” he said. “In the summer months, we find people who set out for a hike wearing flip flops and shorts and carrying no water. They might take an unmarked trail or get disoriented, and they could be lost for days.”

People are advised to check the basics like weather, road conditions, packing the proper gear, and informing friends and relatives where they’re going and when they expect to be back.

The hot weather is also prompting authorities to worry about wildfires.

“We ask that those using fireworks be responsible when using them,” said Mark Johnston, the assistant chief deputy of Oregon’s Office of the State Fire Marshal. “Every year, we see fires started because of improper use or use of illegal fireworks. Our message is to keep it legal and keep it safe as people celebrate the holiday.”

Consumer legal fireworks can only be purchased from permitted fireworks retailers and stands. State regulations also limit where those fireworks may be used.

Southwest Washington law enforcement agencies from Battle Ground, Camas, La Center, Ridgefield, Vancouver, Washougal, Yacolt and the Clark County Sheriff’s Office prioritize their response during periods of high demand. So they are asking people not to call 911 to report fireworks violations unless someone is injured, a fire has been started, someone is attempting to start a fire, or someone is being assaulted with a firework. Instead, callers can reach the police through non-emergency numbers.
Copyright 2022 Oregon Public Broadcasting. To see more, visit Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Kristian Foden-Vencil is a reporter and producer for Oregon Public Broadcasting. He specializes in health care, business, politics, law and public safety.