• Kristin Schuchman

12 Ways to Beat the Heat Wave in Portland, Oregon

12 Ways to Beat the Heatwave in Portland, Oregon


If you live in Portland, pat yourself on the back. When temperatures spiked to 115 and 113 earlier this week, you managed to survive one of the worst weather anomalies in decades. And these hellmouth-like conditions are not over yet. Until at least July 12 temps are expected to stay in the 80s and possibly above. I do have air conditioning in my office but not my home, so figuring out cooling strategies is a life-saving proposition (at the risk of sounding too dramatic). Even if you don't live in Portland, I offer a cool dozen of heat-beating techniques below and hope they can make your summer more enjoyable.

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Photo by Sarah Ardin

1. Protect your laptop and other electronic devices. The heat can have sneakily deleterious effects on computers and smartphones. Invest in a cooling pad for your laptop and keep devices out of the sun and close to a fan.


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Photo by Nathalie Désirée Mottet

2. Stay active. Wake up earlier or wait until later in the day if you normally exercise outside. It’s well worth it to avoid the scorching weather, and exercise itself will help your body regulate its temperature. For most people, the ideal temp for working out is 68-72 degrees, according to outdoor adventure blog FionaOutdoors.

3. Beat a path to the coast or a take a shady hike. Temps can be as much as 40 degrees lower in beach cities and the shaded hikes of the Gorge can be remarkably cooling. (If lots of people have the same idea, try less populated beaches at places like Neskowin and Oceanside. The Wildwood Recreation Site near Welches, Oregon also offers five miles of interpretive trails along the Salmon River in old growth forest that makes for an engaging, respite on a hot day. Bring your swimsuit if want to take dip or waders if you plan to fish. You can even rent a group picnic area (complete with covered eating areas) and make a day of it with some family or friends you haven’t seen in a while.

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Photo by Jojo Yuen

4. If you can’t leave town, find a shady local park and have a picnic with chilled foods like salads, fruit and sushi. I raised two redheads (now teenagers) who have never loved the sun, so I made it my mission in life when they were younger to find the shadiest parks and playgrounds. Sellwood Park and Mt. Tabor parks (and their playgrounds) were my favorites on hot, sunny days, but don’t dismiss Peninsula Park or the forest-shrouded block of Laurelhurst park with the duck pond and winding paths to the north of the not-so-shady playground. On the west side, Washington Park, Forest Park and Tryon Creek are obvious choices but don’t forget “A Park” (former named Custer Park) in the Capitol Hill neighborhood or Wallace Park in Northwest Portland.

5. Drink plenty of fluids. The Mayo Clinic recommends three liters a day on hot days. Green tea and mint tea over ice can be great alternative if you like more flavor. Personally, I like to mix one part hibiscus tea with one part limeade for a slightly tart and sweet thirst-quencher. Hibiscus tea are believed to offer cancer-fighting properties and antioxidants and may even boost liver function.

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Photo by Matt Zhou

6. Play in the water. Get out your favorite floatable — standup paddle board, kayak, canoe or inter tube — and splash with some friends at places like Sellwood Riverfront Park, Hagg Lake, Milo McIver State Park, Vancouver Lake or the beaches along the Sandy River. My personal favorite water activity is to float down the Sandy River starting at Dabney State Recreation Center and ending at Glenn Otto Beach.

7. Try sleeping outside. You’re probably dusting off the tent for summer camping adventures anyway — why not set it up in the lawn and sleep under the stars for a night. In the days before air conditioning, houses commonly had “sleeping porches” to stay cool. Since temperatures in the Northwest typically drop dramatically in the evening, it’s a smart idea (and can even be fun). If it’s within your budget, think about screening in a porch or deck area to make it a more viable spot for slumbering.


8. Invest in coverings like canopies and large umbrellas. Overhead covering can keep decks and porches cooler and provide a place to retreat on nights when the house stays warm but you would like to dine outside or simply curl up with a good book. Gazebos with metals frames and tent-like walls are surprisingly affordable on websites like Wayfair. Home lifestyle blog The Spruce offers reviews on The Best Gazebos of 2021.


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Photo by Todd Quackenbush

9. Go swimming. The Portland Parks and Recreation pools are open again. There are also swimming beaches at many local rivers, lakes and state parks. If you’d rather stay in, above ground pools are surprisingly affordable and can be lifesavers on hot days. Even a kiddie pool can provide a wonderfully refreshing place to read a magazine.

10. Have a water fight. Work out your frustration with the heat with some harmless water artillery like Super Soakers and water pistols. If water guns aren’t your thing, there are other water game items like water balloons, Slip n Slides, and water ring tosses — even buckets. Check out PlayPartyPlan.com for some creative ideas to keep it interesting and fun for everyone.


11. Wash the car. Get the hose out and give your car a bath while sneaking splashes of cold water with one another. Then take your shiny, clean car to Ruby Jewel or Salt & Straw and get some ice cream.

12. If you must go outside, wear large-brimmed sun hats, preferably with neck guards. I know — I think they look stupid, too, but a lobster-red neck looks even dumber and feels way worse. Apply plenty of sunscreen (and re-apply every two hours).


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Kristin Schuchman, MSW is a career counselor and small business coach based in Portland, Oregon who works with creative and mission-driven professionals. She coaches fledgeling entrepreneurs through the startup phase and seasoned business owners through periods of burnout and indecision. She also consults individuals seeking support for career indecision, next steps, work re-entry, advancement, and work-life-balance. She offers a free 30-minute Zoom or phone session and presently works with clients both remotely and in person (with COVID-safe precautions). Find out more at www.sparkacareer.com.