June 24, 2021

Put down the gardening trowel. Leave your lawnmower in the shed. Let those running shoes gather just three more days worth of dust. Not since the stay-home orders of spring 2020 have we had a better excuse to hunker down with Netflix. Only instead of baking bread, opt for a tall glass of water.

With temperatures projected to break records this weekend, health officials warn spending time outside during the hottest hours could be deadly. But conditions can even be dangerous indoors, health officials say, especially for people who don't have air conditioning or a cool space to take breaks.

Health officials are asking people to take this heat wave seriously and, if they can, stay indoors after 10 a.m. when temperatures will start cranking up. If people don’t have a cool place to be at home, they should consider spending time at one of our Cooling Centers. For anyone who needs transportation, dial 2-1-1.

For those who plan on staying home, officials recommend everyone prepare now, especially in homes with children, elders or anyone with chronic health conditions. 

And if you rely on electricity to cool your home or power your medical devices, make a plan for what to do if the power goes out.

Cool off

Normally in the Pacific Northwest, we suffer through hot days but then open our homes at night to bring in fresh cool air. This heat wave won’t bring that nighttime relief, as meteorologists forecast nighttime lows about as warm as our average daily highs. 

Take a cool shower or bath, fill up a kiddie pool and soak in the shade, turn on a sprinkler in the yard and enjoy the water — you guessed it — in the shade.

You can also make a cool pack by filling a sock with rice and tossing it in the freezer, or by freezing a wet washcloth.

For anyone using a fan in place of an air conditioning unit, never point the fan directly at you when the temperature is higher than your core body temperature; and use it only when outside temperatures are cooler than indoor air.

Using a fan the wrong way can actually make your body warmer and dryer. That’s because fans do not actually cool the air, they just move the air around, so the air currents they produce must be cooler than your body temperature to actually cool you down.

Used improperly on a scorching hot day, fans will just heat up the body and make it more difficult to sweat as a way to cool down. 

Cold water, salty snacks

Avoid using your oven or stove and ditch hot foods and heavy meals. Now is a good time to plan your meals for the weekend. Cook them now and reheat them in the microwave, or choose foods that don't need a heat source. This can minimize indoor sources of heat on hot days.

Avoid drinks that make the body lose liquids, like alcohol, caffeine and sugary beverages.

Instead, drink plenty of cold water. Mix a smoothie with lots of ice and frozen fruit, or infuse some cucumber water. If you find yourself sweating, or need to be outdoors, couple your liquids with something salty, like a sports drink or a favorite snack.