Beat the heat: 20 tips and hacks for staying cool during the heat wave

Tips to keep the house cool during the heat.

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Portland is heading into a three-day heat wave of temps at and even above 100 degrees, and then after that the highs will stay in the 80s or 90s for at least the next 10 days (check the forecast here). Here are some tips to help keep you safe and cool.

Cooling your home     

1. Keep your A/C set at 85 degrees when you’re away and 78 when you’re home. It saves energy costs and helps reduce the chance of a power outage

2. Cover your windows with shades, blinds, blankets, sheets or whatever you can find to keep the sun from coming in. Most importantly, block the afternoon and evening sunlight from the windows facing south and west

3. Point your fan out the window to pull hot air out of the room. If possible, use another fan to pull cool air in from the shady side of your house

4. Avoid using your dishwasher and clothes dryer during the afternoon and evening, and avoid the oven and stove if possible. You can use a grill, portable cooking surface, electric kettle or rice cooker outside to cook your dinner, and then hurry back into the A/C to eat it. 

DIY tools

5. You can make a cold compress out of rice and a sock! Just fill the sock with rice, tie up the open end and put it in the freezer for an hour. Put it against your forehead or the back of your neck and it should stay cool for 30 minutes or so.

6. Make your own air conditioner. One highly popular DIY air conditioner is the “swamp cooler” method, which basically requires a cooler or bucket, a small fan, some PVC piping and some ice

Cooling your car

7. Don’t “pre-cool” your car while you’re parked. It’s a waste of time and gas because the AC works much better once you start driving

8. Just before you start driving, put your AC temp on the coldest setting (the warmer AC settings and actually require more work from your vehicle).

9. Roll down your back windows at first to help push the warm air out. It only takes 10-20 seconds before you start to feel the cool air working and you can roll the windows back up.

10. If you have passengers in your back seat, don’t press the “recirculate” button; that just pulls air from the front of the cabin back through the system and doesn’t help cool the rear of the car.


11. Sleep like an Egyptian. Soak a towel or bed sheet in cold water and ring it (or run it through your washer’s spin cycle) until it’s just damp. Lay a dry towel or sheet underneath you and put the damp one over you. The damp sheet or towel will keep you cool as you fall asleep and it will be dry by morning. According to, ancient Egyptians used a similar method to sleep on hot nights 

12. Take a cool bath or shower just before you go to bed. 

13. Open your windows as soon as the temperature drops below 78 degrees and leave them open until you leave for work (or school, or whatever you have to go do) in the morning. Hanging a damp sheet over the windows can also help cool the house

Ahead of the heatwave, I'm using a tip I learned from a story from Keely Chalmers (KGW-TV): How to keep your home cool...

Posted by KGW Taylor Viydo on Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Eating and drinking

14. DRINK A LOT OF WATERHere a look from our Phoenix sister station at how much your body actually needs

15. Avoid drinks that have a lot of alcohol, caffeine or sugar. 

16. Hot drinks can help you cool off, but it’s because they convince your body to kick start its cooling mechanism (which mostly consists of sweating). The cooling effect won’t start working until the sweat begins evaporating, so that hot drink might be a bad idea if you’re in a very humid climate or wearing clothes that prevent that sweat from evaporating. Cool or room temperature water is always the best option. 

17. Eat more frequently, in smaller amounts. Avoid heavy meals (and hot foods).

18. Eat cool, easy-to-digest foods like fruits, veggies or salads. 

Keeping your cool outdoors

19. Slow down. Avoid strenuous activity until a cooler time of the day or week. If you must work outside, DRINK A LOT OF WATER and learn to recognize the symptoms of heat-related illness

20. Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that allows air through, and choose light-colored clothing to reflect sunlight and heat

We asked you how you were beating the heat and here’s what you said. Keep the conversation going here!

What's your best trick (besides air conditioning) to keeping the house cool?

Posted by KGW-TV on Monday, July 31, 2017


And if all else fails, go somewhere that has AC and hide until the heat wave is over. Movie theaters, malls and libraries are great places to relax and enjoy air conditioning. We also have a list of more than 50 cooling centers (and splash pads for the kiddos!) around the Portland metro area.

Cooling centers: Where to escape the heat this week

© 2017 KGW-TV


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