Preparing for Extreme Heat

As the number of days with extremely high temperatures become more frequent and dangerous in the Portland area, it is essential that we become more prepared to safely respond. Below we’ve compiled information and resources for the Lloyd community to prepare for heat emergency scenarios. 

How to Prepare for Extreme Heat:

Here are three actions you can do before the next heat wave arrive:

Get an air conditioning unit

If your residence already has an air conditioning unit, check that it is running effectively. If you do not have an air conditioning unit, you may qualify for a free one:

  1. PCEF Heat Response Program: The City of Portland’s Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund’s (PCEF) Heat Response program “seeks to provide life-saving and efficient portable heat pump/cooling equipment to Portland’s low-income residents, prioritizing those most vulnerable to the impacts of extreme heat fueled by climate change.” In order to receive a cooling unit, there is a list of criteria and qualifications. Check if you are eligible here.
  2. Oregon Health Plan: Extreme heat can be dangerous for anyone, especially those with chronic medical conditions.  Certain OHP participants may qualify for a free unit. More information is available here

A note of air conditioners and apartments: In March of 2022, the Oregon Legislature passed Senate Bill 1536 which established tenants’ rights to have a cooling unit in their residence. Additionally, the bill requires landlords to allow most types of air conditioning units. If you are a tenant, it is essential that you know your rights related to cooling units. To learn more, please refer to this article by the Oregonian.

A blanket with horizontal stripes that are multi colored covering a window with sun coming through.
Having materials to hang over windows, like blankets, can help keep a room cooler.

Make/acquire indoor shades

Covering windows limits the amount of sun and heat that is able to enter the room which ultimately increases the temperature of a room. You can cover windows with a variety of shades such as blankets, aluminum foil, and curtains. This blog has a variety of affordable ways to reduce heat transfer into your home.

Sign up for public alerts

Signing up for public alerts before an emergency, like a significant heat wave, occurs can give you more time to prepare, as well as important information regarding the emergency. You can sign up for alerts for Portland/Multnomah County via this link.

It is very hot, what should I do?

Even if you prepare for the heat, it is possible that high temperatures appear suddenly or you might not have access to a cool room at your home. Here are some potential actions to keep yourself (and your pets) cool and safe:

How to keep yourself cool:

Cement splash pad with the steel bridge in the background
The Multnomah County’s Help for When it’s Hot website has an update-to-date map of -to-date locations of cooling locations including cooling shelters, centers, libraries, misting stations, water play fountains, and transportation to Cooling Centers. Photo by Dave Killen / The Oregonian
  • Take it easy. Rest during the hottest part of the day. The hottest time of day is usually 2 pm to 8 pm.
  • Drink plenty of water. Don’t wait until you are thirsty. Your body loses sodium when you sweat. Drink electrolytes or eat salty snacks.
  • Spend time in air-conditioned places. Even two hours in a cool place can help. See below for information on cooling centers.
  • Get in cool water: Take a cool shower or bath. Mist yourself with a spray bottle. Put a cold, wet towel or ice pack on your neck.
  • Apply cold to key points of the body: there are strategic points on the body where veins are close to the surface and can quickly lower the temperature of blood, for example, the wrists, neck, chest, and temples.
  • Move less: limit strenuous exercise and movement.
  • Wear light, breathable clothing: natural fabrics such as cotton or linen allow heat to escape the body easier than synthetic or heavy fabrics.
  • Limit the amount of stove or oven use: these appliances increase the amount of heat in a space.

How to find a Cooling Shelter:

  • Cooling shelters across Portland provide food and water, safe, air-conditioned places to rest or sleep with some shelters allowing pets. 
  • Check the Multnomah County’s Help for When it’s Hot website for a list and maps of up-to-date locations of cooling locations including cooling shelters, centers, libraries, misting stations, and transportation to Cooling Centers.
  • Call 2-1-1 to find a cooling shelter nearest to you or for transportation support to a specific cooling shelter or center.

Know the signs of heat-related illnesses:

  • When extreme heat is present, it is important to monitor your own health and the health of those around you. There are three levels of heat emergency: heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. If you know the signs, you can decrease and prevent the possibility of these heat emergencies occurring. In addition to the three main heat emergencies, sunburns and heat rashes are two other common heat-related illnesses.
Graphic depicting five Heat-Related Illnesses and what to look for and what to do for each illness:  

For heat stroke one should look for: high body temperature (103 F or higher), hot red or damp skin, fast, strong pulse, headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, and/or losing consciousness (passing out). If someone is experiencing heat stroke you should call 911 right away-heat stroke is a medical emergency, move the person to a cooler place, help lower the person’s temperature with cool cloth or a cool bath, and do not give the person anything to drink. 

For heat exhaustion one should look for: heavy sweating, cold pale and clammy skin, fast and weak pulse, nausea or vomiting, muscle cramps, tiredness or weakness, dizziness, headache, and fainting (passing out). If one is experiencing heat exhaustion: move to a cool place, loosen clothes, put cool wet cloths on your body or take a cool bath,sip water, and get medical help right away if: you are throwing up, symptoms get worse, or your symptoms last longer than 1 hour. 

For heat cramps one should look for: heavy sweating during intense exercise, and muscle pain or spasms. If one is experiencing these symptoms: stop physical activity and move to a cool place, drink water or a sports drink, wait for cramps to go away before you do any more physical activity, and get medical help right away if: cramps last longer than 1 hour, you’re on a low sodium diet, or you have heart problems.” 

For sunburns one should look for: painful, red, and warm skin, and blisters on the skin. If you are experiencing these symptoms: stay out of the sun until your sunburn heals, put cool cloths on sunburned areas or take a cool bath, put moisturizing lotion on sunburned areas, and do not break blisters.” 

For heat rash one should look for: red clusters of small blisters that look like pimples on the skin (usually on the neck, chest, groin, or in elbow creases. If you are experiencing these symptoms stay in a cool dry place, keep the rash dry, and use powder (like baby powder) to soothe the rash.
Warning Signs and Symptoms of Heat-Related Illness

How to keep your pets cool:

  • Never leave your pets in a car unattended
  • Limit exercise on hot days
  • Don’t rely on a fan
  • Provide ample shade and water
  • Watch signs for heatstroke
  • Remember that the street can be a lot hotter than the temperature outdoors and can be very harmful to your pet’s feet. Walk your animal during the cooler parts of the day such as the morning and evening. 

Additional Resources and Helpful Links