Tulare County gets creative with cooling centers

Various cities are using large retail centers and even a transit system as cooling centers residents

TULARE COUNTY – As arduous heat waves run rampant throughout California, Tulare County residents are chalking it up to another hot summer in the Valley. To help residents stay cool, the county has been forced to get creative with how they’re offering cooling centers amidst the ongoing global pandemic.

Traditionally, county libraries are used as cooling centers. When the heat becomes a major issue for residents, they can head to a cooling center until the temperature dies down. Due to precautions to minimize the spread of COVID-19, library buildings have been closed. As a result, a variety of other facilities are being used as cooling centers for residents. Large retail centers such as Walmart, Target, Lowe’s, and Home Depot have stepped up in a few different cities such as Visalia, Porterville, and Dinuba. Dollar General and Family Dollar has stepped up as a resource for residents in smaller cities such as Ivanhoe, Strathmore, and Orosi. In Woodlake, the city hall building lobby is operating as a cooling center. People must wear a mask and should socially distance while in all facilities.

The Visalia Transit Center have used their buses as a cooling center for residents. Only every other seat will be available, rides will typically begin around 9 a.m. and people can ride as long as they would like. This will only happen on days determined by the Visalia Fire Department, which will usually be when the temperature is above 104 degrees. On those days, cooling center signs will be posted outside of the transit center and resident can call ahead to confirm.

For a complete list of cooling centers in Tulare County, visit tularecounty.ca.gov/emergencies/index.cfm/cooling-centers.

For residents who need assistance with their utility bills during the hot summer months, the Tulare County Health & Human Services Agency is encouraging residents to contact United Way by dialing 211. United Way offers utility assistance programs to help residents who are experiencing financial hardship during the ongoing pandemic.

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