Are County Cooling Centers Being Used? - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

Are County Cooling Centers Being Used?

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By Ron Marasco


Polk County has designated nearly two dozen cooling centers around town.  But do people know about them, and are they using them?

Leaders at the Pioneer Columbus Community Center and the Central Community Center both told us only regulars showed up Wednesday, the hottest day in six years.  Temperatures reached triple digits.  They were not aware of anyone visiting the centers for the sole purpose of cooling down.

Heat related illnesses can be deadly, especially on days like Wednesday.

"When we have a couple of days of really hot weather in a row in which it doesn't cool down at night, then it just wears on your body if we don't have an opportunity to cool down and recharge itself," said Rick Kozin, program manager at the Polk County Health Department.

The county has designated these cooling centers to recharge, but we found that many people either don't know about them, or aren't using them.

That was the story at the Urbandale Library.

"I did not realize it was a cooling down building for today," said library patron Jennifer Raes. "But I think it's a great idea."

"I really didn't know it was that (a cooling center) at all," said Lindsey Hannam, an ISU student doing homework at the library.  "But it makes sense.  It's a public place."

However, some may not feel comfortable taking refuge in a place like a senior center if they're not older.

"It's OK to go into these locations for a couple hours to let your body recharge itself," said Kozin.  "We know that just goes a long way in reducing people's risk of getting sick in this kind of weather."

Ninth-grader Andrew Linkletter is getting sick of doing algebra during the summer, but at least he can do it in comfort at the library.

"I think it's pretty cool where you can just come on inside and be like...ahhhh!" said Linkletter.  "It's so nice in here."

All major shopping malls in the metro have also been designated cooling centers.  A link to all the cooling centers in the county is HERE.


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