Cooling center

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A cooling center is an 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.[1] 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.[1][2]

As the danger of heat waves has risen in the public consciousness, cooling centers are increasingly used in larger cities such as New York City,[3] Chicago,[2] Boston,[4] and Toronto,[5][6] as well as less urban population areas.[1][7] Cooling centers may also be used in places like Portland and Seattle where home air conditioning is rare but summer can bring temperatures exceeding 90 °F (32 °C) for several days.[8][9] Similarly, during the 2018 European heat wave and fires that reached northern Scandinavia, a supermarket in Finland was temporarily used as a cooling center.[10]

They are usually sited at multiple locations throughout a municipality, such as public libraries, community centers, senior centers, and police stations.[1][2][4] Another health measure sometimes taken during heat waves is to extend operational hours at public beaches and swimming pools.[4][11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Excessive Heat Prompts Opening of Cooling Centers" (PDF) (Press release). Anne Arundel County Office of Emergency Management. August 11, 2016.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ a b c "City Service: City Cooling Centers". City of Chicago: The City of Chicago's Official Site. City of Chicago. 2010–2016. Archived from the original on 2016-08-08. Retrieved 2016-08-12.
  3. ^ "Find a Cooling Center". New York City Office of Emergency Management. The City of New York. 2013. Archived from the original on 2010-07-04.
  4. ^ a b c "Heat Safety". City of Boston. July 25, 2016.
  5. ^ "Map: Cooling centres and swimming pools open in Toronto". Global National. 2012-06-19. Archived from the original on 2013-01-24. Retrieved 2012-07-06.
  6. ^ Shum, David (July 7, 2016). "Extended heat warning prompts cooling centres to open in Toronto". Global News. Corus Entertainment Inc. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  7. ^ "Cooling Centers". Keep Cool Illinois. State of Illinois. 2016. Archived from the original on 2016-08-13. Retrieved 2016-08-12.
  8. ^ "List of cooling centers in Western Washington". KIRO7. Cox Media Group. August 16, 2012. Retrieved August 12, 2016.
  9. ^ Office of the Mayor (June 25, 2015). "Cooling shelter locations announced ahead of heat wave" (Press release). City of Seattle.
  10. ^ Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen (August 3, 2018). "Europe deals with heatwave from Portugal to a Finnish supermarket". Reuters. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  11. ^ "Governor Cuomo Directs New York State Parks to Offer Extended Hours at Swimming Facilities During Heat Wave". New York State (Press release). Albany, NY. July 26, 2016.