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Coping with wind, rain and lots more…

Protect yourself and your family from health effects of wildfires and related power


Help is available for those struggling with trauma caused by wildfires

For many people in Oregon, dealing with the wildfires has been especially difficult.

For those directly affected by the fires and evacuations, these traumatic events can bring feelings of stress, anxiety, grief, worry and anger. Even those who were not directly affected by fires and evacuations this year but have experienced them in the past may feel these emotions again. Seeing news reports or images of current fires or hearing about fires affecting loved ones can drive feelings like anxiety and stress.

If you’d like to talk with someone or find mental health resources, remember, the Safe + Strong Helpline is only a call away: 1-800-923-HELP (4357).

Protect yourself and your family when smoke levels are high

Smoke levels can change rapidly depending on weather. Check current conditions on the Oregon Smoke Information Blog (http://ow.ly/hZmC50KFZn9), Oregon DEQ Air Quality Index (http://ow.ly/IWyx50KFZnf) or by downloading the free OregonAIR app (http://ow.ly/aqgW50KFZnc) on your smartphone.

Remember that cloth, dust and surgical masks do NOT protect from the harmful particles in smoke.

N95 or P100 respirators approved by NIOSH may offer protection, but they must be properly fitted and worn. They won’t work for everyone, especially children.

Here’s how you can protect yourself and your family when smoke levels are high:

          Stay inside if possible

  • Follow your breathing plan if you have one. Wildfires and pollution contain small particles that can make asthma and other chronic diseases worse.
  • Make sure you have enough medication and monitor your health. Call your health care provider if your asthma gets worse or you’re exposed to smoke.
  • If you can, create a cleaner air space.
    • Keep windows and doors closed.
    • Avoid strenuous outdoor activity.
    • If available, use high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters in indoor ventilation systems or portable air purifiers.
    • You can also create a DIY Box fan filter: http://ow.ly/NYMB50KFZne
  • If you are unable to create a cleaner air space, many communities open cleaner air spaces during severe smoke events. In partnership with local officials and organizations, 211Info maintains a list of public cleaner air spaces. You can learn more about cleaner air spaces:
  • Dial 2-1-1 or 1-866-698-6155- available 24 hours a day.
  • Text your zip code to 898211 (TXT211) – available M-F from 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.
  • Check https://www.211info.org/
  • For more information on protecting your health during wildfires, visit http://ow.ly/CQIy50KFZnb.

If your power goes out during the fires, there are ways to keep your family safe

  • Refrigerated or frozen foods may not be safe to eat after the loss of power.
  • During power outages, keep your fridge and freezer doors closed as much as possible to keep the cold in.
  • Throw out perishable food in your refrigerator (meat, fish, cut fruits and vegetables, eggs, milk and any leftovers) after 4 hours without power. A freezer can stay cold for up to 48 hours, but any frozen perishable foods should be thrown away if they thawed. Never taste food to determine if it is safe to eat. When in doubt, throw it out.
  • Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment. Unplugging your medical devices, appliances, computers and other sensitive electronics can protect them from damage when the power returns.
  • If you use a generator during the public safety power shutoff, never use it inside your home, basement or garage.
  • Run your generator more than 20 feet from any window, door or vent. Generators can produce carbon monoxide. When carbon monoxide builds up in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces, it can be lethal to people and animals.
  • When using a generator, use a battery-powered or battery backup CO detector in your home, especially in sleeping areas.

For more information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/poweroutage/needtoknow.html.

Get your prescriptions filled even in an emergency, preferably at a pharmacy  

Any pharmacy in Oregon can make an emergency prescription refill for a person who had to leave an area affected by a declared disaster.

  • It is preferred, and in some cases perhaps easier, to use the same company that filled the original prescription.
  • If the pharmacist believes the medicine is needed to maintain the patient’s health or to continue established treatment, the pharmacist can make a refill.
  • The emergency refill may be for no more than a 30-day supply.
  • Go to any pharmacy in Oregon, preferably one from the same company as the original fill and request an emergency 30-day refill.
  • A pharmacy will bill insurance as normal if you have insurance. There still may be an associated co-pay.
  • Reach out to their insurance company and work with your pharmacy to get the medications refilled and the costs covered. Call the state’s consumer advocates at 888-877-4894 if there are any issues.
  • If you don’t have insurance or have other questions about accessing emergency refills, Oregon Health Authority might be able to help. E-mail the Oregon Health Authority’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program at: pharmacy@state.or.us

Drinking water may be affected by wildfires

After a wildfire, those who have water supplied by a public water system should know:

  • Customers should stay tuned for messaging from their public water system regarding a potential boil or do not drink advisory. If there is no advisory, it is okay to drink the water.
  • If wildfire was directly over or very near water pipes and water pressure was lost, avoid drinking the water until it is tested for contamination or verified that no plastic pipes were affected.
  • Keep an emergency supply of water in case a power outage causes a disruption in service.

After a wildfire, domestic well users should Assess, Protect, and Test the well with the following guidance:

Begin by completing a well assessment to identify damage level and next steps.

English: https://sharedsystems.dhsoha.state.or.us/DHSForms/Served/le3558a.pdf

Spanish: https://sharedsystems.dhsoha.state.or.us/DHSForms/Served/ls3558a.pdf

If you own a well and a wildfire didn’t affect your area, but you had a power outage:

  • Turn on a faucet in the home to see if water comes out.
  • Observe whether water intermittently spurts out because of air escaping from the open faucet. Spurting water indicates a loss of pressure in the well and the household plumbing.

What should be done if the well lost pressure?

  • Warn users not to drink the water until the well water tests negative for bacterial contamination.
  • Test water for bacterial contamination at a minimum. Water may need to be tested for nitrates and other local contaminants of concern using a certified laboratory.
  • Prime the well pump.
  • Disinfect* and flush the well. Consult with a well contractor if needed.

NOTE: Turn off power to the pump before inspecting to avoid electrical shock.

For additional tips visit:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Private Wells after a Wildfire: https://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/water/private-wells/after-a-wildfire.html

Oregon Health Authority’s Domestic Well Water Program: https://www.oregon.gov/oha/PH/HEALTHYENVIRONMENTS/DRINKINGWATER/SOURCEWATER/DOMESTICWELLSAFETY/Pages/Wildfire-Impacted-Domestic-Well-Testing.aspx

Contact Info:
Media contact: Erica Heartquist, 503-871-8843, Erica.J.Heartquist@dhsoha.state.or.us

Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley : Open invitation to educate students at our nation’s Capitol, Washington DC

U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC

Sen. Jeff Merkley: Open Invitation for Oregon Students to Apply for 2023 Senate Page Program

Applications for Summer 2023 are due January 15, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley announced he is accepting applications to the U.S. Senate Page Program for summer 2023. From now until January 15, 2023, students in Oregon completing their sophomore or junior year of high school during the 2022-23 school year have the opportunity to apply to be part of the Senate Page Program next summer.   

Only 30 positions are available among 100 senators and the selection process is highly competitive—if selected, the Senate Page Program provides students with first-hand experience of Senate operations. Pages play a critical role in the daily work of the U.S. Senate by helping to deliver correspondence, legislative material, amendments and bills around the congressional complex and during congressional proceedings.

“To the young leaders of Oregon who wish to get informed and get involved in the political process, I encourage you to consider the Senate Page Program,” said Merkley. “Being a Senate page is a unique opportunity to come to our nation’s capital and see the inner workings of Congress firsthand, and a great opportunity to take part in creating the change you wish to see in the world.”   

Since 2017, Merkley has sponsored eight Senate pages. Senate pages are appointed and sponsored by a Senator. Unlike interns who work in the Senators’ offices, pages work for the Senate as a whole and spend much of their days on the Senate floor. Pages will receive a stipend ($), live in a dormitory near the Capitol, and attend classes in addition to performing their page duties.  

To be eligible to serve as a Senate page during the Summer 2023 session, you must be: 

1.A high school junior or senior for the 2023-2024 school year; 

2.Between the ages of sixteen and eighteen years old on the date of appointment (the date the page session starts); 

3.A U.S. citizen; and 

4. Able to maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher. 

Interested participants should apply online and must upload the following items:  

5. An official copy of your high school transcript(s); 

6. A current resume; 

7. A cover letter explaining why you wish to be a Senate page; 

8. A letter of recommendation from one of your teachers; 

9. A letter of recommendation from a supervisor familiar with your work on a job or in volunteer service; 

10. A short essay (250 to 500 words) responding to the question, “Describe one major problem that the United States is currently facing and – if you were a U.S. Senator from Oregon – how you would try to fix that problem.” 

For more information about the page application process and for any questions or for further assistance, please contact Senator Jeff Merkley’s office at 202-224-3753. 


More research breakthroughs from OSU and Oregon Health & Science University

PORTLAND, Ore. – Researchers at Oregon State University and Oregon Health & Science University have developed a promising, first-of-its-kind messenger RNA therapy for ovarian cancer as well as cachexia, a muscle-wasting condition associated with cancer and other chronic illnesses.  The treatment is based on the same principles used in SARS-CoV-2 vaccines, and the scientists say mRNA technology, though still in its infancy in terms of therapeutic application, holds tremendous clinical potential for the management of disease. Messenger RNA carries instructions to cells regarding the manufacture of proteins.

The findings, achieved through a mouse model and published today in the journal Small, are important because ovarian cancer is a particularly deadly form of cancer, with a five-year survival rate of less than 30% if it has spread beyond the ovaries.  “Usually patients don’t learn they have ovarian cancer until it’s at an advanced stage and has reached the abdominal cavity,” said Oleh Taratula, an OSU College of Pharmacy professor based in Portland. “Treatment has been limited to surgical removal of as much of the cancer as possible, followed by chemotherapy. Most patients do initially respond to chemotherapy, but the responses generally aren’t long lasting.”

In addition to cancers of the ovaries, stomach, lungs and pancreas, cachexia is associated with many other chronic illnesses including multiple sclerosis, renal failure, cystic fibrosis, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis and HIV.  People with cachexia will lose weight even if they eat, and not just fat but muscle mass as well. The debilitating syndrome kills as many as 30% of the cancer patients it afflicts.  The new therapy developed by Taratula, Daniel Marks of OHSU and collaborators at the two universities is based on lipid nanoparticles, or LNPs, capable of delivering mRNA that triggers the production of the follistatin protein within cancer clusters. The research is part of a five-year, $2.3 million National Institutes of Health grant that resulted from a collaboration between Taratula and Marks.

The LNPs are administered via injection into the peritoneal cavity, which contains the abdominal organs. The follistatin produced following injection works against another protein, activin A, whose elevated numbers are linked with aggressive ovarian cancer and its associated cachexia.  “By changing the characteristics of the cancer cells, mRNA treatment can lead to a range of positive effects,” Taratula said. “It prevents the buildup of ascites – abdominal fluid containing cancer cells. It also delays disease progression and induces the formation of small, solid tumors that don’t adhere to organs and thus can be more easily removed. And it combats cachexia by helping to preserve muscle mass.”

Cachexia and malnutrition have huge implications for cancer patients, he explains. Many of those patients are “in a state of nutritional bankruptcy and chronic wasting,” and that hurts their ability to benefit from treatment.  “Chemotherapy remains the frontline treatment for metastatic disease but it comes at a high cost – loss of muscle mass, depletion of fat stores, fatigue and systemic inflammation,” Marks said. “There is a clear need to find new therapies and drug combinations that improve the efficacy and tolerability of chemotherapy, and we think we’ve taken a big step in that direction.”  

The mouse model showed that mRNA therapy worked well in combination with cisplatin, the current standard of care chemotherapy treatment for ovarian cancer. Mice receiving both therapies in concert lived longer and had less muscle atrophy than those receiving just one of the treatments.


Bad Crash on Bear Creek Road

1:54pm  Report of a black Cadillac careening off North Bear Creek Road near Otis.  The driver lost control and went down a 20 foot embankment – injuries likely reported from the scene.

Watch Out for Power Outages – Oregon Rep. David Gomberg tells us why…

Rep. David Gomberg
Western Oregon

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Two years ago this week, wildfires devastated Oregon and raged through northern Lincoln County, forever changing lives and landscapes.  In a cruel irony, nature chose this anniversary to duplicate fire conditions with heavy winds, high temperatures, and low humidity. But one major difference this year is that power utilities around the state were proactively turning off the electricity and that may have made all the difference.

Labor Day 2020, Susan and I were watching television when there was a loud noise on the street and the house went dark. I went outside and saw that a broken branch had severed the power line and the transformer had exploded. Sparks were dribbling off the pole and into the street. It was easy to see how, in a more remote location, this could have ignited another flareup.

Planned power outages may well become the norm for future fire seasons. Certainly a shutdown – with adequate notice – is preferable to increased fire risk. The utility companies say they are keeping in touch with affected customers via email, text, and social media, as well as through their websites.

But what exactly should you do to prepare for a power outage?

  • Make sure your contact information is current with utilities and county emergency services. That will ensure you receive warnings, notices, and updates. During outages, some utilities offer specialized support services to customers.
  • Gather critical supplies. That includes batteries, cellphone chargers, flashlights, nonperishable food, water, and extra medication. Keep those items in a safe place along with key documents. Have a go-bag ready in case you need to evacuate.
  • Check-in with neighbors and see how they’re doing.
  • When the power goes off, keep freezers and refrigerators closed. Only use generators outdoors and away from windows. Do not use a gas stove to heat or cook in your home — disconnect appliances and electronics to avoid damage from electrical surges.


The Oregon Small Business Development Center Network has published a Disaster Recovery Guide for Business, and free copies are available (printed or PDF) from the Oregon Coast SBDC. Prepared to serve as a practical step-by-step workbook after an event, it has proven reassuring and helpful to businesses as a planning tool.

You may have also seen my report in your post box this week detailing measures and money approved last legislative session to protect our communities from wildfires.


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