The first part of the summer has already brought us days where the mercury has topped 90 degrees and there are likely to be more before summer ends. High heat is most deadly for those who are at-risk, those who live alone, are older or are without air conditioning.
If you are fortunate to have a way to cool off in your own space, consider reaching out to people who might be at risk about ways they can keep cool and seek out cool places. Libraries, community centers, movie theaters and malls are some of the places to go to escape the heat during the warmest hours of the day.
Multnomah County and the City of Portland also have cooling shelters, but shelters aren’t opened until triggered by temperatures that reach threshold levels. A list of cooling shelters can be found at multco.us/help-when-its-hot or by calling 2-1-1. Transportation support may also be available depending on your location.
To keep cool without air conditioning, consider investing in a fan or an air conditioning unit and test it to make sure it works before hot weather hits. Closing curtains and blinds on windows that get direct sun early on days when temperatures are forecasted to be high will help keep indoor temperatures lower.
Other ways to take care of yourself include drinking plenty of fluids, including a sports drink to replace salt and minerals lost through sweat, but avoiding alcohol and sugary drinks, taking a cool shower or bath, wearing lightweight and loose-fitting clothes and avoiding the use of the stove or oven.
Even if you aren’t in an at-risk category, high temperatures can be dangerous. Healthy adults might underestimate the effects of heat on their outdoor plans. They might not bring enough water on a jog or forget to take breaks during a soccer game. If you are out in the heat, rest often in shady or cool areas, wear a wide-brimmed hat, use sunscreen of 15 or higher with “broad spectrum” or “UVA/UVB protection” and pack extra water. Even if you don’t drink it, you may encounter someone who could use it.
Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are conditions to keep an eye out for. If you suspect heat exhaustion in yourself or someone else, drink water and get into a cool place immediately. If systems persist or worsen to heat stroke, call 911, move into an air conditioned space, cool down with cold towels/ice and drink/offer water if the affected person is fully conscious. More about heat exhaustion and heat stroke at multco.us/help-when-its-hot/heat-illness-and-first-aid.