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Be careful when the heat is on

Memorial Day weekend is in the rear-view mirror and there are still three weeks until the Fourth of July. But even though the official start to summer isn’t until June 21, it’s been unusually hot outside.

We want to encourage our readers to take precautions when temperatures hover near the century mark.

In a very timely email Monday, officials at the Oregon Department of Energy sent us some good tips for beating the heat. And two weeks ago, Washington County officials hosted a water safety event at Hagg Lake just south of Forest Grove, another important reminder not to tempt fate when it comes to enjoying the great outdoors.

The agencies’ collective wisdom can save energy, money — and even lives. Here’s just a sampling:

¦ When swimming in a lake or river, always wear a life jacket. Certified Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) can help keep your head above water in the event you get into trouble.

¦ The water temperature this time of year is markedly different than the number on your thermometer. It can be 100 degrees in the shade and only 55 to 60 degrees in a river or lake, leading to hypothermia in a hurry. Remember to never go wading or swimming alone.

¦ To keep the inside temperature of your home at a tolerable level, open your windows at night so the cool night air can replace the warm air. Open windows on opposite sides of the house to encourage a cross-breeze.

¦ Close your drapes and blinds during the day, and consider adding exterior window awnings to add more window shade.

¦ Keep your lights off when you can, and replace old incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs. LEDs not only use less energy, they produce far less heat.

¦ Have a professional tune up your air-conditioning equipment every year. Clean or replace filters monthly, and make sure your vents are open and unobstructed.

¦ Weatherization isn’t just for the colder months. Solid insulation, window caulking and sealed ductwork will help keep cool air in and warm air out.

ODOE also offers incentives to homeowners and renters interested in upgrading their heating and cooling systems — investments that can improve comfort, reduce energy use and save money. Visit oregon.gov/energy to learn more.