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How to (safely) beat the heat without AC

The Northwest isn't exactly famous for its sweltering summers – which is why most of us don't have air conditioning, and rely instead on box fans and open windows to keep cool during heat waves. 

But you don't want your open windows to invite intruders! Police departments across the country know that when temperatures rise, so do the rate of home break-ins, as opportunistic thieves take advantage of easy entry through open windows.

Here are some steps you can take to maximize your home safety and minimize your risk:

Keep windows shut during the heat of the day: Closing your windows and shutting drapes or blinds during the day is the best way to beat the heat without AC – and it most likely coincides with the times you aren't home. For the most efficient cooling, keep your home's windows and doors closed until you're home for the evening, and the temperature outside is same as or less than the temperature inside.

Spring for more secure screens: Consider installing heavy-gauge screen doors with double bolt locks (available at most large hardware stores). They're more secure than typical window screens and, with their large size, allow even greater air circulation than an open window, especially when paired with a box fan to blow cooler evening air throughout the house.

Install locking mechanisms: Dowel rods (like the ones in sliding doors) can be made to fit against window tracks between the window frame and sash, keeping the window opened a crack, but locked in place. You can also install a pin or sturdy nail in your window frame for the same purpose. If you want to open the window wider, just remove the pin, nail, or dowel.

Befriend your neighbors: Get to know your neighbors, and consider joining or establishing a block watch program. It helps promote a sense of community, and can give you peace of mind knowing that your neighbors are looking out for each other.

Keep all floors in mind: You may think that no thief would go to the trouble of getting to a window on an upper floor, but this isn't always the case. Trees, shrubs, or ladders that are stored outside can all provide easy-enough access for an opportunistic thief to break in, so be sure to secure upper-floor windows, too.

Special note for those of you who've installed window AC units – make sure you take similar precautions to protect your home! Window air conditioning units can be easily pushed out, allowing the window to be opened further. Make sure the unit is securely installed, and consider adding a dowel rod or window pin to keep it locked in place. 

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