Ways to keep yourself and your house cool

Between now and Saturday evening, parts of Oregon may once again experience unusually high temperatures, which put the elderly and people with chronic conditions at greater risk of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Now’s the time to prepare to keep yourself and your home cool.

Here are some ways to protect yourself at home:

  • Air-conditioning is the best way to protect against heat-related illness and death, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). If your home isn’t air-conditioned, keep windows and doors closed during the day to hold down indoor temperatures.
  • FEMA also suggests covering your windows with drapes or shades or using window reflectors, such as aluminum foil-covered cardboard, to reflect heat back outside.
  • When the outside temperature drops below that of your home – usually at night – open windows and turn on any fans, suggests MedicineNet.com. During cooler evening hours, you may also want to open exterior doors and use box fans to push out hot air.
  • Keep in mind that while electric fans may help you feel more comfortable, fans won’t prevent heat-related illness when temperatures climb into the high 90s, notes FEMA.
  • Try not to use your stove or oven. Doing so will likely make you and your home hotter, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
  • Choose fresh foods that don’t need to be cooked. Some fresh fruits and vegetables – such as strawberries, plums, cucumbers and melon – contain a lot of water and will help keep you hydrated. Store-bought prepared meals may come in handy but try to avoid those that are hot or heavy. They add heat to your body.
  • Avoid using other sources of heat, such as incandescent light bulbs or computers.
  • If available to you, stay in lower levels of your home, such as the basement. Hot air rises. So, the upper stories of your home will likely be warmer than the lower levels.

Here are additional steps you can take to protect yourself and your pets:

  • If your home isn’t air-conditioned, spend time in air-conditioned public facilities, including cooling centers, malls, libraries and movie theaters. Click here or call 211 to find cooling centers in your county.
  • Drink plenty of water. Regardless of how active or thirsty you are, keep hydrated, advises FEMA. Also remember to offer your pets lots of water.
  • Avoid strenuous activity and try to limit your outdoor activity to the cooler morning and evening hours.
  • When you must spend time outdoors, wear sunscreen and rest often in shady areas, advises FEMA.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
  • Take cool showers and baths and consider using a spray bottle filled with water to cool yourself throughout the day. Giving your pets a cool bath will help hold down their body temperatures too.
  • Fill buckets or basins with cold water and soak your feet. Wet towels and bandannas worn on the shoulders or head also have a cooling effect.
  • Never leave children or pets in cars, which can quickly heat up to dangerous levels.