In the city of Cerritos, California, a new community shared space has opened to provide residents with an air-conditioned space to combat the summer heat waves. This space at Cerritos Park East is called a cooling center, and is currently open during heat waves, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Frank Yokoyama, Mayor Pro Tem of Cerritos, stated, “When the LA County decided that cooling centers would be opening, I wanted Cerritos to have one as well. Originally, our plan was to open the cooling center at 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., but I believed it was more reasonable and logical to align the cooling center’s hours of operation with the building’s. I worked with City Manager Art Galluchi to extend the hours earlier, to start at 10 a.m.”
This cooling center is free to utilize for all Cerritos residents. The COVID-19 safety rules are extensive to ensure that residents are safe. Entry is not allowed for anyone with symptoms, and all visitors and staff must wear face coverings at all times. Hand sanitizer, soap, water, and disinfectant are available to all. Any high-contact areas are cleaned and disinfected, according to guidance provided by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. Social distancing regulations are enacted to ensure that all the Los Angeles Department of Public Health safety protocols are met.
Tommy Kim, senior citizen and longtime resident of Cerritos states, “A community cooling center is a great approach to combat the summer heat; I think it would’ve been difficult to initiate this in a large scale or more populated city, but because Cerritos is a small town, I like that the city council worked to initiate this.” Cerritos was not alone in offering cooling centers. In downtown Los Angeles, 14 opened during that same weekend, while in nearby Orange County, Sherman Oaks East Valley Adult center and other Multipurpose centers also provided cooling centers.
During the August heat wave, the LA County’s Department of Public Health reminded residents to take extra precautions. This included avoiding the sun from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., when the rays are the strongest, drinking 2 to 4 glasses of water every hour during the day, and replenishing nutrients lost through sweat with fruit juices or sport drinks. The minimum sun protectant should be 15 SPF at all times, and pets should be kept indoors or in a shaded area.
Although originally, the Cerritos cooling center was scheduled to be open from August 18th to 23rd, because of the recent heat waves and warmer temperatures, it continues to be in use during heat waves.