Sunday, July 25, 2010

How to Beat the Heat In and Around Salem

For the most part, Summer in Salem, Oregon is just about perfect. Warm days, cool nights, little humidity, and a few bugs. But then every once in awhile we get a "heat wave", as Oregonians call days in the 90-100 degree range. The reason it really feels like a heat wave is because almost no one has air conditioning since its really more of a luxury than a necessity around here. Since I've been surviving Oregon "heat waves" for my entire life, I thought I'd share some of the local secrets to staying sane in the heat.


  1. First of all, there's the window/door air-conditioning trick. Open all the windows and doors early in the morning with the fans blowing the cool air in, then close them up quickly when the temp outside starts to rise above the temp inside the house. My mother is an expert at this, standing in the middle of the doorway one arm held outside and the other inside to test the temperatures. :) Then make sure you keep all your windows closed and blinds and curtains closed until the temp drops in the evening again. 
  2. If you have a basement, move your mattress down there and sleep in it on the hottest days. My entire family and an assortment of friends would have slumber parties in our basement on the days that just wouldn't cool down. 
  3. Go to the beach or up to Detroit Lake. Both the mountains and the beaches can be 20-30 degrees cooler than the valley. So pack a cooler and head out for the day, just remember you won't be the only one, so expect traffic.
  4. Go shopping. The one place that is always air conditioned is the mall. 
  5. Go to a movie. Pick a long one and make sure its about mid-afternoon so you miss the worst of the heat. (The hottest part of the day in these parts is usually between 4-6 pm).
  6. Make friends with people who have pools (pretty uncommon around Salem) or join one of the community pool clubs. I know there are a couple in Keizer, one in West Salem, one out south and I'm sure lots of others. They can be pretty spendy, but non-members can sign up for lessons which are MUCH cheaper. You don't get full access, but you can stay cool for awhile.
  7. Head over to one of the splash fountains around Salem. The largest fountains are at Riverfront Park and River Road Park. There are smaller splash fountains at Fairmont, Northgate, Wes Bennett, West Salem and Englewood neighborhood parks.
  8. If all else fails, take a cool shower and then sit in front of a fan. Repeat as needed.
Have fun, enjoy summer, and be safe. And don't forget to hydrate!

3 comments:

The Mulligan Family said...

Good suggestions, all! We did finally break down about 6 years ago and have an air conditioner installed. Until that time we spent a lot of summer days in our basement.

You are correct though - it is a luxury and we don't normally have to use it. But, on the days that it IS required - it is heaven.

solarjinx said...

Jake's Bar & Grill (on 12th Street SE) is another great way to beat the heat. Lots of nice pool tables there! Oh dear, Ringo's will NEVER forgive me now.

Emily said...

Our baby is sick, and I was too for a while there, so travel is out at our house. We finally gave in and got one small air conditioner. That's all we've needed...

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