Summer is here and, as the temperature rises, staying safe in the heat is critical. Multnomah County is prepared to respond to extreme heat with three cooling centers to help seniors and people with disabilities and other health conditions stay safe. Extreme heat can be very dangerous, especially for the most vulnerable in our community.
“The county is committed to supporting the most vulnerable members of our community in a variety of ways,” said Erin Grahek, a human services program manager for the county. “As we move into the summer months, operating cooling centers becomes a key initiative for us. These cooling centers offer a safe, cool site for older adults and people with disabilities when temperatures reach critical levels.”
The centers are activated based on weather conditions. They will open when the forecast calls for three or more days of 95 degree or greater temperatures. Neighborhood cooling centers are located at the Multnomah County Walnut Park Building, 5325 N.E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in the King neighborhood, and at the Hollywood Senior Center, 1820 N.E. 40th Ave. in the Hollywood district. A third cooling center is located in Gresham.
“Even a few hours in an air conditioned space can make a tremendous difference,” said Amber Kern-Johnson, executive director of the Hollywood Senior Center. “Air conditioning is the best defense against heat-related illness.”
Transportation to cooling centers can be arranged by calling Ride Connection at 503-226-0700. Advance reservations are encouraged and all rides are free of charge. Pets and children are welcome at all cooling center locations. Each location offers activities including board games and movies. Snacks and water are available.
As the temperature climbs, community members are encouraged to check on elderly or vulnerable friends and neighbors. Heat stroke or heat exhaustion are common conditions in hot weather. Higher temperatures also can place a dangerous strain on those with heart and other health issues.
For more information, visit www.multco.us/help-when-its-hot. The Multnomah County Aging, Disability and Veterans Services Helpline has resources for older adults and people with disabilities, including a list of senior centers, transportation services and 24-hour crisis intervention. Call 503-988-3646 or TTY at 503-988-3683.