Extreme Heat in Oregon is the new normal. Around the world 2023 is the hottest year ever recorded, with July being particularly hot.
As heat disasters become more common, staying cool becomes increasingly difficult. We have compiled a list of resources for you to view and share with your community. As we work to create a healthier and more just world, it is imperative that we take care of ourselves and each other during these challenging times. Continue reading to find tips for staying cool, information about statewide cooling centers, and resources for vulnerable populations.
Drink LOTS of water!
During extreme heat we all will dehydrate considerable faster than normal. Continuously sip water through out the day, even when you don't feel thirsty. Some people have conditions that may keep them from realizing how dehydrated they are. Avoid alcohol and sugary beverages (Gatorade, soda, sweetened tea) as those will dehydrate you faster.
Stay in Air Conditioned Buildings as Much as You Can:
Air-conditioning is the number one way to protect yourself against heat-related illness and death. If you home is not air-conditioned, head to a public library or cooling center near you. Check out our list of cooling centers/resources below.
Find the Coolest Place in your home:
Lower floors and basements will usually be cooler than upstairs. Shade will keep spaces cool. Pull curtains down on windows, hang darker sheets or blankets in windows to further keep out the sun. If possible place barriers on the outside of your windows as well to block the heat from the outside.
Parked Cars are NOT Safe!
Do not sit in a parked car, do not leave children in a parked car, and do not leave service animals, emotional support animals, or pets in a parked car! In the heat and sunlight, it is not safe to stay in a parked car for any period of time, except with the engine on and the air conditioning running.
Connect with Your Network and Community
Make sure to check in with family, friends, neighbors and other members of your support systems regularly. People who are socially isolated are at a higher risk for death during extreme heat than those who are not.
Questions to ask people in your life, especially those who are more vulnerable or depend on your for their care:
- Are you drinking enough water?
- Do you have access to air conditioning?
- Do you need help keeping cool?
Be Aware of the Temperature in Your Home:
If you are staying in a home/space without air-conditioning, use a thermometer or your thermostat to check the temperature in your home regularly. Some people with disabilities and some people who are older have difficult telling when their home is too hot. As the temperature climbs, consider a cooling center, library or other air-conditioned place for relief.
Make a Back-up Plan:
It is important to have a back up plan to keep yourself cool. With everyone tapping into the electrical grid to power their air conditioning, the potential of power outages goes up. Even with air conditioning, the place you are living/staying may get too hot especially during peak heat hours. Cooling Centers and public buildings, such as libraries, are a good alternative.
Watch for Warning Signs and Symptoms of Heat Related Illness:
Heat related illnesses include: heat rash, sunburn, heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Heat strokes are a medical emergency, if you or someone you know suffers from heat stroke call 911 right away. If symptoms of heat cramps and heat exhaustion last for more than an hour, get medical help right away.
Symptoms of heat stroke include:
- High body temperature (103 F or higher)
- strong, fast pulse
- headache, dizziness, nausea and confusion
- losing consciousness (passing out)
- hot, red, dry, or damp skin
Stay Cool (even without a/c)
If you don't have easy access to air conditioning try these tactics to keep yourself and those around you cool:
- Spritz your skin with a mist or sprinkle of cool/room-temperature water.
- Block out the windows in your home with a blanket or darker sheet during the day to keep the heat out. Especially those that get afternoon sun.
- At night, keep your windows open and run fans to circulate the air (only if the air quality in your area is safe enough to do so).
- Wipe your forehead with a cool cloth.
- Avoid strenuous activity outdoors if possible. Learn about your right to refuse work during dangerous weather.
- If you plan to spend time near water or swimming, especially in the Portland area, please be aware of algae bloom in the Willamette River and other bodies of water. You can check updates on the Oregon Health Authority website.
- Take cool showers or baths to cool down.
- Have someone check on you regularly - this can be done in person or virtually.
Lane County Cooling Center Information
FEMA: Be Prepared for Extreme Heat Info Sheet
Heat and Older Adults:
- CDC: Older Adults and Extreme Heat
- New York Times: Heat Affects Older People More. Here's How to Stay Safe
How Heat Impacts Infants and Children, and Pregnant People:
- CDC: Heat and Infants and Children
- Content Warning: this resource assumes female gender for pregnant people- EPA: Protecting Children's Health During and After Natural Disasters: Extreme Heat
- Yale Climate Connections: Extreme Heat Makes Pregnancy More Dangerous
- Journal of Midwifery and Women's Health: The Impact of Extreme Heat Exposure on Pregnant People and Neonates: A State of the Science Review
If you have any questions regarding the resources please reach out to Anna Kahler at [email protected]
Let us know if you have additional resources or tips to share! Send your message to [email protected]
This page was updated on August 16th, 2023