With the 2017 heating wave upon us, cooling centers are being open


Temperatures are increasing across many parts of the country, in particular on the East coast and in the Midwest. Calendar year 2017 continues to bring large parts of the nation record temperatures. In order to get some relief, cooling centers provide residents a place to go to get out of the heat. They are available for anyone that wants to use it. People that are struggling to pay utilities often drop in, they help keep seniors cool, and the homeless can also drop by.

Warm and humid weather leads to higher electric bills. And many people just either do not have an air conditioner or fan, or they can’t afford to keep up with the higher utility bills. The cooling centers give them a place to go to get some relief. They can drop in anytime of the day, and the locations are open to the public.

Cities with cooling centers

They tend to be open in larger, more densely populated parts of the country. So this means Boston, New York City, some communities in Los Angeles, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Houston among many other cities. The reason they are open in more populous cities is because there will be more people nearby that can use them, vs. a rural community where in theory individuals would need to drive miles or more.

2017 is not the only time these locations have been used. The cooling centers tend to open most years. But it does seem that it is becoming more frequent, and maybe this is because the fact is that the earth is heating up. In fact there have been record temperatures across the world for 3 years running now, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as well as NASA. So as temperatures continue to go during 2017 as future years, local communities are doing what they can to provide some type of relief.

The locations not only provide people a place to go to stay cool, but they also offer other assistance when possible. It is fairly common to be able to get some bottled water or bags of ice. There may also be places where people can sign up for financial assistance programs from LIHEAP. Some centers are now even passing out free fans or air conditioners (as supplies last) to those residents that qualify based on their income.

You will need to search around for them in your community. In order to find one nearby, note that each community is different. The government may open cooling centers at local libraries. In fact this is becoming more common over the last few years, and the trend is continuing in 2017. They may be open at either police or fire stations as well. So a local government is often involved in opening a site.

Charities, churches, and non-profits also try to participate. It is fairly common for some of the larger Salvation Army Family Service centers to open a cooling center. They can also be located in a gym at a church. Or if a charity has a shelter on site, those tend to be used during the summer; although a shelter will tend to focus on helping the homeless. Another option, which tend to focus on the elderly, is an Aging on aging Center.

Since each city is different, we recommend calling a local social service agency in your community. One of the examples we have listed above (a church, Salvation Army, DHS office, etc.) is often a good place to start.

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