Temperature records were broken in the states of Oregon and Washington.
Free transport to air-conditioned shelters and garbage collection well before sunrise are just some of the measures that have been adopted in the North West Coast peaceful of the United States, where a heat wave that has lasted for several days is reaching its peak.
The mercury soared to 39°C in Portland, Oregon's largest city, on Tuesday. This was a new record for a July 26, breaking the mark set in 2020.
Seattle also witnessed a new daily record, at 34.4°C, according to the US National Weather Service. The old mark of 33.3°C was recorded in 2018.
Elsewhere in Washington State it was 32.2°C and 36 .1°C respectively at Bellingham and Olympia, other new records.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown has declared a state of emergency across most of the state. She warned that the heat could cause power outages and transportation problems. No refreshment is expected in western Oregon and Washington state before the weekend.
Oregon public health officials are reporting an uptick in ER visits due to the heat. Emergency numbers are also getting more calls for the same reason.
Oregon Public Health Spokesman Jonathan Modie thus testified to 32 heat-related emergency room visits on Monday, compared to 4 or 5 before the start of the heat wave.
Portland city leaders have opened air-conditioned shelters in public buildings and installed vaping stations in parks. The city's public transportation company will allow those who need it free travel to shelters.
Most companies responsible for garbage collection in Portland were on the job before 4 a.m. Tuesday morning to reduce the heat exposure of their employees. Morning collections are expected to continue at least until Friday.
Multnomah County, which includes Portland, planned to open four air-conditioned shelters where people can stay cool overnight. These shelters will be able to accommodate a total of 245 people. A spokeswoman, however, said that space will be found for everyone and no one will be turned away.
Several libraries have extended their opening hours until 8 or 9 p.m. to allow people to escape the heat.
Leaders and residents across the region are trying to prepare for longer and more intense heat waves since last summer's deadly heat dome. In late June and early July 2021, some 800 people lost their lives in British Columbia, Oregon and Washington State during a heat wave which pushed the mercury up to 46.7°C in Portland.
Heat records were broken in several cities in the region. Most of the victims were people who lived alone. The town of Lytton, British Columbia, Canada, was razed by flames.
Mercury is not expected to reach such high levels this week, but the National Weather Service has issued an extreme heat warning for large portions of Oregon and Washington State.
Seattle and Portland leaders have issued air quality advisories through Saturday as smog levels could be harmful to some individuals.