OEM Urges Oregonians to Take Action Now to Reduce Risk and Stay Safe

Posted on July 1, 2021

Oregon Office of Emergency Management – 07/01/21 12:45 PM

SALEM, Ore. – July 1, 2021 – As Oregon emerges from an unprecedented heat wave amidst a statewide drought and already active wildfire season, the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is urging the public to take actions to help reduce risk and stay safe.

“Learning of the tragic loss of life as a result of the recent heat wave is heartbreaking. As an emergency manager – and Oregonian – it is devastating that people were unable to access the help they needed during an emergency,” said OEM Director Andrew Phelps. “As with every emergency or disaster, local and state partners worked together before, during and after this event to identify and coordinate needs to ensure resources were made available – from cooling stations staffed in partnership with counties and the American Red Cross to proactive outreach and messaging to get people across the state information they needed to prepare for and endure the record-breaking heat.”

While this most recent heat wave is over, numerous threats to life safety remain. With hot and dry conditions worsening existing drought conditions, the increased wildfire risk, and thousands of Oregonians heading outdoors for summer adventures after months of pandemic restrictions – it is more important than ever to prevent and prepare for disasters.

This Independence Day will mark the first holiday since COVID restrictions have been lifted, and many Oregonians will gather with family and friends. July Fourth festivities often include travel, water activity and fireworks – all of which require planning and preparedness to ensure safety.

“OEM is committed to ensuring the safety and wellbeing of every person in Oregon,” said OEM Director Andrew Phelps. “And that means empowering every individual do their part for themselves, their family and their community. Check on family and friends, talk about your emergency plans, discuss what’s in your go-kit or what you’re doing to beat the heat. Don’t assume your neighbor or friend returned from the hike they told you about – reach out and confirm. Share information and resources to help raise awareness of ways to stay safe. Preventing disaster and preparing for bad days can be as simple as a conversation and can make all the difference.”

Below are some resources from state, local and national partners:

Excessive heat safety

High temperatures remain in the forecast for the next two weeks. The public is encouraged to take basic actions to protect themselves:

  • Stay hydrated – drink plenty of water, avoid high-sugar and alcoholic drinks, and start drinking water before feeling thirsty.
  • Stay vigilant – check on neighbors; vulnerable populations, including the elderly, infants, young children, and people with chronic health problems or disabilities; and pets.
  • Stay informed – know signs of heat-related illness and how to treat it – the Oregon Health Authority has abundant information on its website in multiple languages. Check for weather updates from the National Weather Service.

Wildfire awareness and safety

In the aftermath of record-breaking temperatures that contributed to extreme drought conditions, Governor Kate Brown yesterday declared a state of emergency due to the imminent threat of wildfire. Much of the state is in extreme fire danger with red flag warnings issued for hot, dry, windy conditions. Dry thunderstorms, which can bring lightning strikes, are also in the forecast. To help  Keep Oregon Green and prevent human-caused wildfires, the public is encouraged to:

  • Consider portable camp stoves as a safer option to campfires any time of year and are often allowed in areas prohibiting campfires.
  • Be aware that cars, motorcycles and ATVs can easily cast sparks or overheat – especially if they’re older or not maintained. Review tips to prevent vehicle-caused wildfires.

Fireworks safety

Use of fireworks varies statewide depending on jurisdiction. Given recent extreme temperatures and statewide drought, fireworks are banned in some areas while others have restricted the timeframe they may be used. The public is encouraged to check with local authorities before using fireworks.

While the Oregon State Fire Marshal does not have the authority to ban fireworks, the agency’s “Keep it legal. Keep it safe.” campaign supports the use and safety of legal fireworks. Fireworks are not allowed at any time in national parks and forests, on Bureau of Land Management lands, on U.S. Fish and Wildlife properties, on all Oregon Department of Forestry protected lands, on state beaches, or in state parks and campgrounds.

Travel safety

With COVID restrictions lifted, an increase in travel is expected. Up-to-date road conditions can be found at TripCheck.com or by calling 5-1-1. To stay safe while traveling:

  • Use caution in work zones, including areas undergoing wildfire recovery and rebuilding.
  • Do not use a cell phone to call or text while driving; pay full attention to the road.
  • Do not drink and drive.

Recreation/water safety

Popular sites may be busy, full or difficult to access; have back-up plans and go prepared. Oregon’s Recreation Site Status Map provides a centralized hub to inform the public as they take advantage of Oregon’s many outdoor recreation opportunities. Other recreation tips include:

  • Informing family or friends of travel itineraries and timelines.
  • Bringing supplies including water, snacks, sunscreen, proper equipment, and a fully charged cell phone.
  • Knowing and following local campfire bans and other fire restrictions.
  • Staying out of closed areas – including wildfire recovery operations sites.

Heading to the water to cool off? Know skill levels and limitations when in and around water:

  • Always wear a life jacket, carry required safety gear, be aware of weather and water conditions, boat sober and be considerate of others.
  • In pools and swimming holes, swim with a buddy and stay within arm’s reach of young children and inexperienced swimmers.
  • Learn more about being safe on the water by visiting the Oregon State Marine Board.

Calling for help

Oregon has multiple resources offering quick and accessible assistance:

  • Reserve 911 for life-threatening emergencies or to report a fire.
  • Dial or text 211 or visit 211info.org for health and social service assistance.

Text-to-911 helps those who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have limited speech capabilities, as well as anyone unable to talk due to an emergency. Like other 911 calls, text-to-911 should only be used for emergencies. If the situation is not an emergency requiring immediate help, call the local Public Safety Non-Emergency line.

“We want to help ensure folks have the resources and information needed to do what they can to keep themselves, their families and communities safe,” said Phelps. “We can all do our part to make sure the memories made this holiday weekend and throughout the summer are memorable for the right reasons.”

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You can get this document in other languages, large print, braille, or a format you prefer. For assistance, call 971-719-1183 or email language@oem.or.us. We accept all relay calls, or you can dial 711.

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