A cooling center is a air-conditioned public space set up by local authorities to temporarily deal with the health effects of a heat wave. Cooling centers are meant to prevent hyperthermia caused by heat, humidity, and poor air quality. Cooling centers provide shade, water, and restrooms; medical attention and referrals to social services may also be offered. Their services are aimed at the homeless, at-risk populations such as the elderly, and those without air conditioning.
As the danger of heat waves has risen in the public consciousness, cooling centers are increasingly used in cities such as New York City, Chicago, Boston, and Toronto, as well as less urban population areas. Cooling centers may also be used in places like Seattle where home air conditioning is rare but summer can bring temperatures exceeding 90 °F (32 °C) for several days.
They are usually sited at multiple locations throughout a municipality, such as public libraries, community centers, senior centers, and police stations. Another health measure sometimes taken during heat waves is to extend operational hours at public beaches and swimming pools.
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- "Cooling Centers". Keep Cool Illinois. State of Illinois. 2016.
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