How to Keep Cool During a Seattle Heat Wave

It's no Heat Dome, but this week's weather forecast is still worth taking note.

By Angela Cabotaje July 26, 2022

A little over a year after Seattle experienced that record-breaking Heat Dome, we're going through it again—sort of. Temperatures are expected to reach the low-90s this week, and the National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for King County from noon today through Friday. In a state notorious for our lack of air conditioning, and inequitable tree canopy coverage, that's cause for concern.

Groups at higher risk of heat stroke or other heat-related illnesses include older adults, young children, those experiencing homelessness, people who work outside, and folks with chronic medical conditions like diabetes. Herein lies some tips for keeping yourself and your friends, neighbors, loved ones, and pets safe.

Where to cool off inside in King County

King County plans to open cooling centers in 12 different cities, and the King County Regional Homelessness Authority will also offer dozens of day centers across the region. 

Four Seattle community centers have air conditioning and will operate as de facto cooling centers:

  • Rainier Beach Community Center, 8825 Rainier Ave S  
  • International District Chinatown Community Center, 719 Eighth Ave S
  • Northgate Community Center, 10510 Fifth Ave NE
  • Magnuson Park, Building 406, 6344 NE 74th St

Aside from county-run sites, plenty of businesses and community institutions have blessedly cool interiors to help beat the worst of the heat during the day: some Seattle and King County library locations, all manner of malls, movie theaters, museums, the Kraken Iceplex, Seattle Center's Armory, and various senior centers.

Where to cool off outside in King County

The water's just fine and, thankfully, plentiful. Check out our list of spray parks and wading pools (you'll want to confirm the hours before you grab your towel), or just head to the beach (lifeguards are on duty from noon to 7pm):

  • Madison Beach, 1900 43rd Ave E 
  • Madrona Beach, 853 Lake Washington Blvd
  • Magnuson Beach, NE 65th and Sand Point Way NE 
  • Mt. Baker Beach, 2301 Lake Washington Blvd S 
  • Pritchard Beach, 8400 55th Ave S 
  • West Green Lake Beach, 7312 W Green Lake Dr

And if you don't have a friend with a boat yet, at least you can make a friend who has a backyard swimming pool

For dog owners, several area dog parks have water access for pups.

How to cool off at home

Hopefully we've all internalized these tips by now, but as a refresher, here's how to keep yourself and your home as cool as possible, assuming you're sans AC.

  • Stay hydrated: Water's a go, alcohol and copious amounts of caffeine are not.
  • Shut your blinds: Close window coverings during the day to keep heat and light out; open them back up during cooler periods at night.
  • Ice the fan: Park a bowl of ice in front of a fan to help it circulate cooler air throughout the room.
  • Wear wet clothing: A cold, wet hat, shirt, or bandana around your neck can help cool down your body temperature.
  • Sleep cool: Put your sheets in the freezer before you go to bed, or sleep with some ice packs on your bedding. 

Know the signs of heat stroke

Hopefully it never comes to this, but it's also a good idea to know the symptoms of heat stroke, heat exhaustion, or other heat-related illnesses. For people, that's confusion, slurred speech, loss of consciousness, profuse sweating, hot skin, and seizures. Sometimes it can manifest as headaches, nausea, dizziness, and irritability. If the situation is dire, call 911 and immediately apply ice or cold cloths to the person's body, especially the neck, wrists, armpits, and groin area. 

For pets, symptoms of heat exhaustion or stroke include heavy panting, difficulty walking, agitation, glazed eyes, vomiting, or a deep red or purple tongue. Treatment is the same deal as with humans: apply ice or cold towels to the head, neck, and chest; offer cool water; and head straight to the vet.

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