Temperatures are climbing to the mid-90s this week amid a heat wave in Seattle that set a record daily high Tuesday, and people are looking for ways to cool off. 

The current heat wave won’t match last year’s record-breaking 108-degree “heat dome” scorcher, which killed at least 78, but this week’s weather will be stifling and dangerous. Kirby Cook, National Weather Service Seattle science and operations officer, said Seattleites should seek a break from the heat wherever they can get it, especially because mid-60s nighttime temperatures will not offer much relief. 

This uncommonly hot Northwest weather is dangerous for those with underlying health conditions, Cook said, and it’s important for those who work outside to keep hydrated and find cooler areas to rest. For those who venture out for fun, Seattle waters are tempting.


“Another thing that typically happens when we have these heat waves is people want to go out and get into the water,” Cook said.

Here’s what you should know about safely getting into the water around Seattle to beat the heat, no matter your budget.  


Splash away the sun on Washington waters

Public beaches and pools are a go-to move for getting in the water for less.

Swimming beaches are an affordable, safe water option to cool down this week. Three Seattle Parks and Recreation swimming beaches have lifeguards on duty from 12-7 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekends: Madison Beach, Mt. Baker Beach and West Green Lake Beach. Three beaches — Matthews Beach, Seward Park Beach and East Greek Lake Beach — remain closed this summer.

Cook said temperatures vary around Seattle in part because water heats up and cools off slowly, helping moderate temperatures. But not all water is created equal, especially in regards to heat. Despite the heat wave, Puget Sound is currently around 50 degrees and can put people at risk for cold water shock or hypothermia. Green Lake and Lake Washington are around 70 degrees. A list of water temperatures in Washington is available at lakemonster.com

Several pools, including Ballard Pool, Meadowbrook Pool and Rainier Beach Pool, will also be open. Pool admission costs $4.25 for youths and seniors and $6.25 for adults; find a full list of pools with hours at st.news/pools.

While swimming beaches and pools are generally safe, other types of water can be risky. 

“It’s another way to cool off, but be sure to be safe when you’re getting in the water, especially if it’s moving water,” Cook said. 


Rivers tend to keep the King County Sheriff’s Marine Rescue Dive Unit busy during hot weather. Sgt. Richard Barton said there are two rules people have to legally follow when using a human-powered watercraft like paddleboards and kayaks: wear a life jacket and have a sound-producing device, like a whistle. But it’s pretty common to see people not wearing life jackets. This becomes dangerous, especially when people are trying to have fun on a river. 

“It looks calm, but it might not be calm under the river,” Barton said. 

High-quality rented watercrafts fare better than cheap gear bought in stores at a lower price. Floaties offer a bit of fun, but only when used appropriately. Inflatable crafts are more susceptible to popping in a river than a beach or pool because of the water’s movement, Barton said. 

When in doubt, rent it out

The Center for Wooden Boats offer free one-hour rentals Wednesday through Sunday at South Lake Union. Kayaks and paddleboards are available to rent starting around $20 an hour at Agua Verde Paddle Club and Moss Bay — and the University of Washington Waterfront Activities Center offers canoes and kayaks starting at $14 an hour.

If water lovers are in a position to splurge, The Electric Boat Company and boatsetter.com offer heavy-duty rentals starting around $80 per hour. Low-effort “donut boats” are available to rent upwards of $100 at Seattle Donut Boat, and even Jet Skis are available from $595 at Ohana Kai Watersports

Before renting, check out Washington State Parks Boating Program at parks.wa.gov for water rules and safety tips. 

Beat the heat without the water 

Water is not the only way to get away from the heat. Cook said people should spend some time every day in an air-conditioned place. Fun activities can include going to a movie theater or the library. 

Seattle Public Libraries has several branches with air conditioning, including the Central Library, Ballard Branch and Magnolia Branch. See the full list at spl.org