How to Stay Cool and Help Others During the PDX Heat Wave

Resources on how to cool off, and places to volunteer to help our AC-less neighbors

By Nick Campigli August 11, 2021

We hate to see it, but Portland’s up for another round of extreme heat Wednesday through Friday, hitting a potential high of 105 this Thursday. For now, it is uncommon for Portland to see this kind of warming, but if a recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is worth anything, we should expect more hot summers in the future. Luckily, there are ways to stay cool during Portland’s latest bout of the heat.

First off, drink plenty of water. Avoid liquids that can dehydrate you, like alcohol or sugary drinks. If you have it, turn on your AC to keep your home cool, but remember to keep it around 75 degrees to prevent stress on the power grid. Fans are also a must, but make sure that you’re not blowing hot air on yourself. Instead, create a cross-breeze with a second fan to prevent the fan from blowing hot air onto you. If you don’t have access to a fan, go to Oregon’s Health Share website to figure out how to get hooked up with one. 

The city’s schedule of outdoor activities has changed in response to the heat wave. On Thursday, the most intense day of the heat wave, Portland’s pools will close at 2:35 p.m. to protect pool staff from the heat. Summer camps at local community centers will remain outside Thursday morning but will move indoors for the afternoon as the temperature rises. Portland’s splash pads and interactive fountains are also available for water-based family fun or just to cool off. A list of fountains and splash pads can be found here

If you need to go out, try to do it when the heat is less extreme during the early morning and evening. Make sure to keep to the shade, wear a wide-brimmed hat, lather on some sunscreen, wear some light-colored clothing, and bring a few bottles of cold water.

Know the signs of heat exhaustion! If you’re out and your heartbeat feels too fast, you’re sweating profusely, dizzy, or you’re vomiting or nauseous, get inside and cool off! The symptoms of heat exhaustion can be deadly, and it’s important to pay attention to your body while you’re outside.  

Non-profits and mutual aid organizations will also be operating throughout Portland, providing water and resources necessary for Portlanders to survive the heatwave. One non-profit, Meals on Us, will be working with Be Loved Bloc to provide resources and supplies. You can drop off supplies at 2818 NE Halsey St., and a list of needed supplies and Cash App links can be found on their Instagram page.  

Don’t have AC? Fear not, cooling centers will be open throughout the Portland metro area.  However, this can’t be done without your help. The city of Portland’s cooling centers need volunteers throughout the three-day heat wave, and you can sign up to volunteer at one of the city of Portland’s cooling centers or misting stations at this link. Anyone who needs transportation to a heat center can call the city’s 211 line.  

Finally head this way for a full list of cooling centers in the city of Portland, and ClackamasMultnomah and Washington Counties.

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