How to stay safe and (somewhat) comfortable during this wicked Maine heat wave

With temperatures all across the lower half of the state expected to reach into the 90s through the weekend, it’s official: most of Maine is in a wicked heat wave.

Though folks who live in southern states laugh at our discomfort when they regularly endure extreme heat, here in Maine, it’s not as common an occurrence (though it’s getting more common). Some Mainers may be underprepared for extended periods of heat and humidity. Others may just simply be deeply, deeply uncomfortable. 

Here are recommendations from both BDN staff and organizations like the Maine Emergency Management Agency on how to stay safe and cool during these hot summer days.  

Drink plenty of water and other fluids

The No. 1 most important thing you can do to stay safe when temperatures soar above 90 degrees is to stay hydrated. Ideally, just drink lots of plain old ice water, though sports beverages and seltzers are fine, too. A tasty lemonade or iced tea probably won’t hurt you either, and you could always try your hand at making old-fashioned Maine switchel. As tempting as it is to crack open an ice-cold beer, alcohol is an ill-advised choice on days when you can run the risk of dehydration.


Go swimming

It sounds obvious, but really, what better way to beat the heat than taking a dip? Here at the BDN, we’ve compiled many lists of swimming holes, beaches and public pools over the years, including this handy-dandy one just for the Bangor area and another list of swimming spots a bit farther afield. There’s even this list created from BDN reader suggestions, including picturesque spots in Baxter State Park and Washington County. Don’t forget your sunblock!

Keep your house cool

Air conditioning is the obvious choice for keeping your house cool, but there are other ways to lower the temperature inside. Turn on fans, for one, and also consider switching out any incandescent light bulbs you have for LED lights, which emit around 90 percent less heat. Try not to turn your stove on when cooking — this is a great time to grill outdoors or eat lighter, no-cooking required meals like salads and sandwiches. Keep your curtains and blinds shut during the day so more heat doesn’t infiltrate your home — though open them up at night so the cool air can come in. 


Skip outdoor sports and exercise

If you’re committed to a daily regimen of running outdoors or biking, it’s understandable that you don’t want to skip a day for any reason. But when it’s over 90 degrees out, your fitness goals can be counterproductive to your health. Consider skipping that run or that practice session — or do it first thing in the morning or the evening, when temperatures are cooler. If you must, drink more water than you think you need, and keep an eye on yourself for dizziness, cramps or shortness of breath — all signs of heat exhaustion. That also goes for people who work in hot environments, like kitchens and construction sites. 

Check on your loved ones

If you’re not lucky enough to have good health and access to air conditioning, there’s a good chance the heat is doing a number on your well-being. Folks with conditions like congestive heart failure, asthma and obesity, as well as older people in general, can get quickly overwhelmed by sustained high heat and humidity. The Maine Emergency Management Agency specifically suggests making sure people who are older and who live alone are doing OK during the heat. And, don’t forget our furry friends — pets also suffer from the heat, and hot pavement can hurt dog paws on walks during the day.

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