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Tips and hacks for staying cool during a Pacific Northwest heat wave

Summer-like temperatures arrive on Monday, with the Puget Sound region likely to see highs in the mid-80s and even 90s.

Monday is expected to be the hottest day this week, and western Washington could see its first 90-degree day of 2020. 

Here are some tips to help keep you safe and cool.

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.

RELATED: Western Washington forecast

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.

RELATED: Make your own air filter

Cooling your car

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

8. Just before you start driving, put your A/C temp on the coldest setting (the warmer A/C settings 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.

Sleeping

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 sleepbetter.org, 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.

Eating and drinking

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

15. 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.

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

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

Keeping your cool outdoors

18. 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.

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

And if all else fails, go somewhere that has A/C and hide until the temperatures cooldown.