HOT WEATHER & AIR QUALITY
Find cooling centers typically open in Snohomish County available for the public to have a safe place to cool off when the temperatures rise.
If you have air conditioning to keep your home cool and know a friend, family member or neighbor who does not, consider extending an invitation during the hottest stretch of the day (typically 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.) during extreme heat.
If you know someone who is vulnerable to heat and may be unable to keep cool, be sure to check in on them. If you are someone at risk of heat-related illness, make a plan to stay cool and reach out for help if you need it.
Don't underestimate the danger of heat, even with short exposure.
- Stay hydrated with water
- Take frequent breaks in activity, and avoid strenuous activity indoors or outdoors in high temperatures
- Avoid outdoor activities during the hottest parts of the day (usually 3-6 p.m.) and limit sun exposure
- Use cold washcloths on neck or wrists
- Close doors of unused rooms and close curtains or blinds to keep heat out
- Avoid or limit use of ovens, stoves or other appliances that increase indoor temperature
- In extreme heat, a fan should not be relied on as the only method of cooling
- NEVER leave a child, disabled adult or pet unattended in a vehicle. When not in use, lock vehicles so children cannot climb inside and become trapped.
- Know the signs of heat-related illness and what to do
FLYER: Keeping Cool in Hot Weather and Signs of Heat-Related Illness (click image to enlarge)
Extreme heat isn't the only reason people may need to get inside during the summer. Wildfire smoke - which can come from local fires or from other states or countries - may cause the air quality to become unhealthy. Breathing smoky air is bad even for otherwise healthy individuals, but it's especially dangerous for: people with existing lung or heart problems, infants and young children, pregnant women, older adults (over 65), or people with a history of heart attack or stroke.
Smoke exposure can cause:
- Eye, throat or nose irritation
- Wheezing and coughing
- Shortness of breath
- Worsening or triggering of existing lung or heart conditions.
Keep up to date on air quality and what level of activity is safe in current conditions by visiting the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency website.
Flooding and storms
It is important to follow proper health and safety precautions when returning home or cleaning up after a flood. Food and water could be contaminated, electrical appliances are hazardous, and furniture, clothing and other items will need to be cleaned and dried thoroughly.
- Do not drink water from a private system that has been flooded. Treat water or bring it to a full rolling boil for at least 1 minute before using. Water for brushing teeth or washing dishes or food also should be boiled or treated.
- Discard food that has contacted floodwater and does not have an airtight seal. Cans should be rinsed in a diluted bleach solution before opening.
- Do not attempt to use electricity until the building's electrical system has been checked by a qualified professional.
For more tips and resources, please review our Cleaning Up After a Flood (PDF) guide.
Power outages can cause a number of safety concerns; knowing the following information can help.
- Consider buying a generator. When installing a generator, follow the instructions carefully. Keep your generator outside and run a cord inside. Don't connect your generator to main service panels—it's dangerous! Be sure to place a carbon monoxide detector indoors.
- Have a safe alternative heat source and supply of fuel. Never burn charcoal or use a generator indoors.
- If you own an electric garage door opener, know how to open the door without power.
- Make sure your disaster preparedness kit contains light sticks, flashlights, a battery-powered radio with extra batteries and a wind-up clock.
- Register life-sustaining and medical equipment with your utility company.
- Candles can cause a fire. It's far better to use battery-operated flashlights or glow sticks for lighting.
- Conserve water, especially if you use well water.
- Even if it is dark, turn light switches and buttons on lamps or appliances to the “off” position.
- Leave one lamp on so you will know when power is restored. Wait at least 15 minutes after power is restored before turning on other appliances.
- Never use gas ovens, gas ranges, barbecues or portable or propane heaters for indoor heating—they use oxygen and create carbon monoxide that can cause suffocation.
- Stay away from downed power lines and sagging trees with broken limbs.
- Turn off lights and electrical appliances except for the refrigerator and freezer.
- Unplug computers and other sensitive equipment to protect them from possible surges when the power is restored.
- Using a kerosene heater, gas lantern or stove inside the house can be dangerous. Maintain proper ventilation at all times to avoid a build up of toxic fumes, and be sure to have a carbon monoxide detector.
- If in doubt, throw it out. Throw out meat, seafood, dairy products and cooked food that does not feel cold.
- Keep doors to refrigerators and freezers closed. Your refrigerator's freezer will keep food frozen for up to a day. A separate fully-loaded freezer will keep food frozen for two days.
- Never taste suspect food. Even if food looks and smells fine, illness-causing bacteria may be present.
- Use and store food carefully to prevent foodborne illness when power outages make refrigeration unavailable.
- Use caution if storing food outside during winter to keep it cold. The outside temperature varies, especially in the sun. Frozen food may thaw and refrigerator food may become warm enough to grow bacteria. Food stored outside must be secured from contamination by animals.
- Use foods first that can spoil most rapidly.
- Use an ice chest packed with ice or snow to keep food cold. Buy dry ice to save frozen food. Do not handle dry ice with your bare hands. Use blocks or bags of ice to save refrigerator foods.