A Slice of the Pie: Keep cool – Tips on how to counteract the extreme heat

August 2021 Posted in Uncategorized

By Melissa WagonerMelissa Wagoner – A Slice of the Pie

June came in like a lamb this year and went out like a… dragon? It broke records across the state with temperatures in Salem reaching a whopping 117. Then the area had the hottest July on record… And then the August heat dome hit, again threatening triple-digit days.

Those kind of temperatures may be expected in Arizona, where the average June temperature is 105. But in Oregon, where June averages 74 and even July is only 83, many homes – and homeowners – just aren’t prepared. 

The Office of State Medical Examiner reported that as of July 9 there were 83 confirmed deaths associated with the heatwave. 

Here are some ways to beat the next wave of extreme heat. Consider clipping the list and using it as “refrigerator art.” These days you never can tell when you may need it.

Before the Heat Hits

• Replace air filters and service air conditioners before you need them.

• Install a programmable thermostat.

• Shut the fireplace damper.

• Shut down appliances that create heat, like computers.

• Keep the lights off. Not only do incandescent bulbs produce heat but its best to conserve electricity when air conditioner use is at its highest.

• Once the air outside is above 77 degrees, close windows, doors and curtains.

Cool the House

• Close curtains or shades – there is a bonus for sun-deflecting white or heat blocking blackout curtains. In a pinch, car windshield sunscreens work as well.

• As long as it’s not humid, place a shallow bowl of ice in front of a fan.

• Turn off exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathroom – these can pull hot air into the house. The exception is when taking a hot shower because it’s necessary for hot, sticky air to escape.

• Run the fan and the air conditioner simultaneously – the air circulation helps to cool your body.

• Forgo the oven and cook alfresco – throw something on the grill, plug in the Instant Pot, slow cooker or griddle outside. Or come up with a skillet meal and use the camp stove.

• When the air outside is dry and cool, hang a damp sheet in the window to cool incoming breezes through evaporation.

• As soon as the temperature outside drops below the temperature inside, put a fan in the window facing out to rid the house of trapped hot air.

Cool Your Body

• Fill a sock with rice and put it in the freezer. Don’t forget to tie off the end. Then use it to cool your neck, your forehead or even your sheets.

• Refrigerate a cucumber, then place slices on your eyes.

• Use essential oils like peppermint that have a cooling effect.

• Apply aloe to your skin – the cooling sensation isn’t just for sunburns.

• Give your feet an ice bath.

• Spray yourself with cool water, especially your wrists.

• Dress in loose clothing, either lightweight cotton or sweat wicking fabrics, and go barefoot.

• Take a cold shower, especially right before bed.

• Eat smaller meals throughout the day.

• Eat something spicy. The sweat will cool you down.

• Hydrate – drink water or chrysanthemum tea (a natural coolant) and eat fruits and vegetables with a high water content (watermelons, cucumbers and fruit smoothies are great options). Avoid sugar, salt, caffeine and alcohol.

• Read a book or watch a movie set in a cold climate to lead your mind into cool thoughts.

• Consider purchasing cooling bed linens. Or, place regular sheets in a plastic bag and freeze them before use.

Cool Your Schedule

• Plan your day – water plants, exercise, hang clothing on the line or run errands before the temperature climbs.

• Instead of going for a run, go for a swim. Don’t forget sunscreen.

• Run the dishwasher at night and forgo the drying cycle.

• The same goes for laundry – wash clothes at night, and if you can, avoid using the drier. Consider using a clothesline!

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