Beating the heat: Hot weather do's and don'ts

Washington state is headed for record temperatures this weekend, with some days reaching triple digits.

While most homes in the state do not have air conditioning, there are a few things Washingtonians can do to help beat the heat, if not make it slightly more bearable: 

FOR YOUR BODY

  • Do wear light fabric clothing and lighter colors while you're out and about. Lighter colors reflect sunlight, lighter fabrics allow breezes to get to your skin.
  • Do use sunscreen generously. Getting a sunburn damages the body's natural ability to cool itself down naturally.
  • Do drink plenty of water. Being thirsty is actually one of the first symptoms of dehydration. Avoid drinks with alcohol, excessive sugar, excessive caffeine. These are all diuretics and can dehydrate you further.
  • Do take a cold/tepid shower or bath to cool yourself down and let yourself drip dry.
  • Do know the signs of heat exhaustion: faint or dizzy, excessive sweating, cool & pale/clammy skin, rapid or weak pulse. What to do: cool down, take a bath, cold compress.
  • Do know the signs of heatstroke: throbbing headache, not sweating, red/hot/dry skin, rapid or strong pulse, may lose consciousness. Call 911-- this is a medical emergency. Nausea and vomiting are signs of both heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

RELATED: What makes this heat wave so unusual?

AROUND THE HOME

  • Don't use your oven or stovetop/toaster/ slow cooker to cook/bake/toast things if you can avoid it.
  • Do grill outside or use your microwave.
  • Don't use your dryer unless you can close the door to that room/utility closet. Hanging clothes outside is free and will not add to the heat inside your house or apartment.
  • Do use places like libraries, malls, movie theatres, to cool off-- even the shade with a breeze can be better than inside.
  • Do open up all your windows (and doors) if you can in the early morning hours and late in the evening.
  • Do close up these windows before 10 a.m. and close the blinds/curtains to keep out the sunlight. Keep them closed all day.
  • Do circulate the air around your closed-up home with box or ceiling fans. This does not reduce the temperature, but it reduces the apparent temperature to your body.
  • Do use box fans in the windows to accelerate the cooling of your house when the sun goes down. Point them OUT in the upper levels of the home, point them INWARD at the lower levels of your home.
  • Do turn off electronics you're not using and consider unplugging them too. Even plugged-in, electronics create a tiny bit of heat.
  • Do leave off incandescent light bulbs. They produce a lot of heat for the amount of light they put off.

FOR OUR COMMUNITY

  • Do check on elderly neighbors. The very young and very old are the most susceptible to heat exhaustion and heatstroke. So are pregnant women and infants.
  • Do keep an eye out for kids or pets in hot cars. Do call 911 if you see it happening, this is a medical emergency.
  • Do not break a window to rescue a pet in a car. You are not covered from liability from the damage you cause under WA State law.
  • Do be careful around area waterways. Watch out for other swimmers and especially little kids. The water is cold. Rivers are moving fast and high with snow melt. Jumping in can cause Cold Water Shock which can kill even the strongest of swimmers.
  • Do be careful with fire. The warm breezes and hot temperatures will dry out vegetation very quickly once the hot weather sets in. At the very least-- large fires means we all have to close windows to avoid the smoke and bake inside, at the worst fires can destroy life and property. Being careful with fire also means not driving in tall grass, the underside of your car can spark fires too.

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