Multnomah County Reports Three Suspected Heat-Related Deaths as of Thursday Afternoon

We compared heat-related calls from the current heat spell to last year’s heat dome that killed 69 Portlanders.

It’s Day Four of a heat spell that descended on Portland this past Sunday.

What we know so far from county health officials and first responders: There’s one suspected hyperthermia death, a suspected drowning from someone trying to cool off in the Sandy River, the city’s Emergency Communications Bureau has answered 71 heat-related calls since Sunday, and first responders have responded to 51 heat-related emergencies since Sunday.

Update, 4:15 pm: Multnomah County officials have identified two additional suspected heat-related deaths, bringing the total to three. The county did not offer any identifying details, but said the deaths occurred Wednesday and today.

Those numbers, provided by the Multnomah County Health Department, pale in comparison to numbers from last year’s heat dome that ultimately killed 69 Portlanders, but still show reason for concern. In response, the county has additional outreach workers handing out supplies and is operating a number of cooling shelters across the county where people can seek relief.

During last year’s five-day heat dome, according to data provided to WW by the city’s Bureau of Emergency Management at the time, the bureau responded to 238 heat-related calls over a six-day period, including welfare checks and incidents of fainting and vomiting due to the heat.

BOEC and Portland Bureau of Emergency Management also provided WW with mappings of all the incidents across town after last year’s deadly heat dome. The majority of calls came from downtown and East Portland. (See below.)

The current heat wave is supposed to last through Sunday, with temperatures peaking around 100 degrees each afternoon. This year’s heat wave is of grave concern partly because temperatures are remaining elevated throughout the night, meaning body temperatures also remain elevated—a recipe for heat-related illness.

Since Sunday, the county reports, 22 people visited emergency rooms for heat-related sickness.