A cooling center is a temporary air-conditioned public space set up by local authorities to deal with the health effects of a heat wave. Usually sited at several locations throughout a city, cooling centers are meant to prevent hyperthermia, especially among the elderly without air conditioning at home.
Cooling centers provide shade, water, and sometimes medical attention, along with referrals to social services, as many of the people who need assistance from these centers are homeless.
They are increasingly used in cities such as New York City, Chicago, Boston, and Toronto as the danger of heat waves has risen in the public consciousness, or in places like Seattle where home air conditioning is rare but 90+ F (32 C) temperatures occur every summer, though typically do not last for more than a few days.
Another health measure sometimes taken during heat waves is to extend the hours of operation of public swimming pools.
- Keep Cool Illinois - Listing cooling centers throughout Illinois.
- New York City Office of Emergency Management - Information about New York City cooling centers
- "Map: Cooling centres and swimming pools open in Toronto". Global National. 2012-06-19. Retrieved 2012-07-06.