PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — With excessive heat returning to the Pacific Northwest nearly one year exactly after a record-shattering heat dome left dozens dead in the Portland metro area, officials say it’s important to do everything you can to keep your house cool.
First and foremost, health officials at local and national levels advise people to limit or avoid strenuous outdoor activity during extreme heat, if possible.
According to KOIN 6 forecasts, temperatures on Sunday are expected to pass 90 degrees by 1 p.m. and stay there into the evening, making the majority of the day a hazard for heat exhaustion or heatstroke.
Multnomah County officials urge people to stay indoors during the hottest part of the day and to check on those who are most vulnerable, like elderly people or those with chronic health conditions.
Staying inside at home can only help if you are able to keep it cool, and those without air conditioning will have a difficult time as temperatures peak — but there are ways to reduce the amount of heat in your home.
What can I do without air conditioning?
Officials and home energy experts have these tips for staying safe and cool — even if your home does not have air conditioning:
- Avoid using the oven or stove
- Avoid hot foods and heavy meals in favor of foods that don’t require heating
- If you must cook at home, choose a microwave or outdoor barbecue
- Refrain from drinks that dehydrate the body, like alcohol, caffeine and beverages full of sugar
- Turn off electronics or other heat-producing appliances when not in use
- Close your windows and pull down your shades during the day, then open them at night when it’s cooler outside than inside
- Put a fan in the window to circulate fresh cool air, but only if the air outside is cooler than inside
- Switch incandescent light bulbs for LED ones
- Take a cool shower or bath
- Make a cool pack by freezing a wet washcloth or filling a sock with rice and putting it in the freezer
- Do not point fans directly at yourself when the air is hotter than your body temperature
- Make sure ceiling fans rotate in a counter-clockwise direction to circulate more cool air
It’s also possible to make an air conditioner from common items found in stores. Watch KOIN 6 News Digital Enterprise Reporter Gabby Urenda’s how-to video here.
How do I know how much water to drink?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reminds people to stay hydrated regardless of if they are outside or inside during the heat. Here are the tips CDC health officials give about drinking enough water:
- Drink water throughout the day and before feeling thirsty
- If working in the heat, drink 1 cup, or 8 ounces, of water every 15-20 minutes — about 0.75 to 1 quart of water every hour
- However, avoid drinking too much water — defined as 48 ounces or 1.5 quarts per hours — which can cause a medical emergency
If you have to be outside
County health officials say to couple cold water with salty snacks for those who find themselves sweating or need to be outside.
Health officials also offer these tips for those who have to be outside during high heat:
- Limit outdoor activity to the coolest hours of the day
- Rest often in shady or cooled areas
- Wear a wide-brimmed hat
- Wear sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher, preferably “broad spectrum” or one with both UVA and UVB ray protection
- Pack extra water, and if not needed for yourself, ensure others are staying adequately hydrated
If your home is too hot, there are some cooling centers and public libraries open around the metro area. Find a list of those here.
According to the CDC, signs of heat exhaustion or heatstroke can include heavy sweating, dizziness, headaches, confusion, fainting, vomiting and more. Learn more about the signs to watch out for with KOIN 6 News’ coverage here.
Some people — including older adults, outdoor workers, those with heart disease, people taking certain prescription drugs or drinking alcohol, and those with mental illnesses — are more at risk than others for heat-related illnesses, the CDC says, but even young and healthy individuals can be afflicted if they are active outside during hot weather.
Officials urge community members to look out for one another, especially the most vulnerable, and to call 911 if they believe someone has a life-threatening heat-related illness like heatstroke.