According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, more than 1,300 people lose their lives each year due to exposure to extreme heat. In 2021, at least one hundred Oregon residents died during the summer heatwave. Many of these deaths could have been avoided if residents had access to cooling devices in their homes or an alternative place to go to escape the heat on scorching summer days.
The Oregon legislature has taken notice of this issue and recently passed a bill that will hopefully save more lives during the hottest summer months.
One of the main issues that many Oregon residents face when it comes to battling the heat is the ability to control the temperature in their homes. Previously, many landlords and homeowner associations could prohibit residents from installing window air conditioning units or using portable cooling units in their homes.
This new bill will allow residents to install cooling systems in their homes and apartments as long as they don't violate building safety codes or use more power than the building's electrical system is capable of handling.
The state of Oregon is also allocating several million dollars to help low-income residents purchase portable air conditioning units. They also plan to use those funds to pay for community cooling centers where residents can go on hot days to escape the heat.
Another feature of the bill is a mandate that would require new rental units built after April 1, 2024, to have a cooling system available in at least one room of the unit. Hopefully, with these new measures in place, the lives of many Oregon residents will be saved in the event of another summer heatwave.