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High temps expected in the 90s, some overnight relief expected; advisory extended through Thursday

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL-PACHECO - Josie Thompson, 1, enjoys a scoop of vanilla ice cream at Dari Delish on Monday, July 23. Columbia County residents found ways to cool off during a heat wave this week by eating cool treats, playing in water fountains, visiting local air-conditioned libraries and hanging out in cool locations. The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory Monday afternoon that extended into Thursday evening, warning of highs in the mid-90s with some overnight relief. And forecasts indicate the heat will stick around until early next week, as well.

On Friday afternoon, July 27, the NWS issued an excessive heat warning for the upcoming weekend, from midday Sunday through Monday night.

Various public agencies have issued tips and reminders about how to beat the heat, keep pets and animals safe, and avoid potential health troubles.

The National Weather Service recommends people stay indoors, drink plenty of liquids to keep hydrated, and use air conditioning, if possible.

As of Wednesday afternoon, officials from Columbia River Fire and Rescue and Scappoose Fire and Rescue said they have responded to only a few

heat-related health emergencies.

Children and pets should not be left outdoors or in parked vehicles. For more information about a recent change in Oregon law regarding animals and children in distress in vehicles, see page A14 in this week's Spotlight.

In St. Helens, the city does not provide an official cooling center, but city officials encourage residents to seek out facilities open to the public if they are in need of a place to cool off, such as the St. Helens Public Library or the Columbia View Park splash pad.

Scappoose officials note the same ideas. While no official cooling centers are set up, residents can head to Heritage Park to cool off in the Rotary Children's Fountain or visit the library during regular business hours.

While splashing in a fountain works for some, others have taken to swimming in various rivers, creeks and beaches in the county. Emergency officials remind swimmers to be cautious when using bodies of water to cool off. People should wear lifejackets in rivers, lakes or oceans.

Additionally, relatives and neighbors should also check on one another, especially those with health sensitivities or limited access to cooling.

The St. Helens Senior Center is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and has a series of regularly scheduled activities for older residents looking for a way to escape the heat. The Scappoose Community Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Staff members at the Scappoose center said that while they have seen roughly the same number of guests as usual, visitors have opted to stay a little longer.

Anyone working outdoors should schedule frequent breaks and rest in shaded areas. Knowing the signs and symptoms of heat-related illnesses and heat stroke is also important. Signs of heat stroke, the most serious heat-related illness, include confusion, fainting, seizures, excessive sweating and high body temperature. If someone is believed to be suffering from heat stroke, call 911.

Other heat-related illnesses include heat exhaustion, which can cause cool skin, headache, nausea, lightheadedness, and a fast heartbeat.

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