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San Diego County Counters Heat Waves with Free Fans and Rides to Cool Zones



The county is mounting new defenses against summer heat, with free electric fans and transportation to public “cool zones” where residents can sit out heat waves.

“There are a lot of San Diegans who don’t have access to air conditioning, and when it gets to extreme heat conditions they need a place to go for their health and safety and cool zones are that,” Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher said Wednesday at a news conference at Spring Valley Community Center, in one of the hotter areas of the region.

Summer high temperatures have risen in recent decades, posing risks to vulnerable people including the elderly, homeless and those with heart and respiratory conditions.

“Even short periods of exposure to high temperatures can cause serious health problems, especially for older adults,” said county Public Health Officer Dr. Wilma Wooten, adding that prolonged exposure to the sun or overheated places can cause ailments ranging from cramps to exhaustion or heat stroke.

The county operates 16 “cool zones,” also known as cooling centers, at different libraries, recreation centers, museums and fitness centers open different days and times, Fletcher said. It’s trying to expand the number of spaces where residents can cool down, and create “surge capacity” to open more locations quickly in case of severe heat or power outages.

Fletcher said county officials are reaching out to community and business organizations to get the word out about the availability of cool zones, and also enlist volunteers who can offer their facilities for public use on the hottest days.

“Whether you are a business, a nonprofit, a government location, a for-profit, a nonprofit, if you’re willing to provide safe space in an air conditioned environment for San Diegans to get out of extreme heat, we want to list you,” Fletcher said. READ MORE