Spokane Cooling Centers set to open up again on Sunday

SPOKANE, Wash. — With the temperatures once again expected to rise into the upper 90s, the city of Spokane is opening up their cooling centers to protect vulnerable people from the heat, but in previous instances the centers didn’t draw as many people as some imagined they would.

Starting Sunday at 11 a.m., the City of Spokane will open the Looff Carrousel as a cooling center. When the center was last open back in late June into early July only about 730 people utilized it, but the city says this is still a fairly new response to the extreme heat.

“We haven’t been faced with this kind of heat in the past, so this is a new concept. I think it takes people a little time to get into the awareness mode of those being available,” said Kirstin Davis, a Communications Manager for the city of Spokane.

In addition to the carrousel, various Spokane Public Library branches will also be available throughout the week. The centers will be open until the forecasted high drops below 95 degrees.

In a statement Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward said, “The city is proud to offer the public respite from high temperatures…I encourage everyone to check on friends and neighbors to make sure they are safe.”

In the past, the centers have been used by mostly tourists, the elderly and homeless populations. City officials say they had to get creative when combating the extreme temperatures.

“One of the things we really wanted to look at was what are the resources that we have, how can we be most efficient,” said Davis.

More than 15 people have died this summer from the heat. Last week the Spokane City Council approved changes that allow shelters to open under less extreme circumstances. Warming shelters must now open when temperatures fall below 32 degrees, and the city can decide to open at higher temperatures.

Cooling centers will open when National Weather Service forecasts two or more consecutive days that are least 95 degrees, and the Safe Air Center will open when the air quality index is 250 or more.

“It’s our duty to provide not just for who are unhealthy, but people who are vulnerable,” said Spokane City Council member Lori Kinnear.

Medical experts recommend you drink plenty of water and electrolytes and know the signs of heat stroke and exhaustion in these extreme conditions.

PAST COVERAGE: Spokane cooling centers reopening for the hot weather weekend

RELATED: Preparing to handle the heat: How to prevent heat exhaustion and heat stroke