HomeNewsLos Angeles County Addresses Excessive Temperatures by Looking at Expanding Cooling Centers

Los Angeles County Addresses Excessive Temperatures by Looking at Expanding Cooling Centers

LOS ANGELES, CA – Today, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion authored by Supervisor Hilda L. Solis and co-authored by Supervisor Janice Hahn which aims to expand access to cooling centers, Water Boxes, and culturally and linguistically appropriate outreach, so that all communities know how to stay safe from extreme heat.

Climate change has led to every year becoming another year of record heat. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), an average of 1,220 people die from extreme heat annually. However, in 2023, there were 2,302 fatalities due to heat exposure in the United States with California being in the top five states for heat-related mortalities.

Despite work that has already been done to increase the number of cooling centers across Los Angeles County, sites only operate after two consecutive days in which temperature is perceived to be at or above 95°F in the Los Angeles basin (and 104°F for valleys, deserts, and mountains). Cooling center operations do not account for the proportion of unhoused individuals, who live in crowded housing, housing without air conditioning, or proximity to green spaces or other locations with air conditioning, such as shopping centers which can alleviate heat burden.

“For community members who are vulnerable to heat-related illness, access to a cooling center after two days of extreme heat can be too little too late,” said Supervisor Solis. “County residents of varying ages and health conditions, including older adults, babies and young children, pregnant women, individuals with chronic health conditions, as well as unhoused individuals, have unique risks to heat-related illnesses. To that end, there is much more work needed to grow the number of cooling centers, provide outreach to the most vulnerable residents, and increase access to clean water which can also be a lifeline amid extreme heat.”

It is undeniable that residents of varying ages and health conditions will continue to face intense heat that will impact them uniquely based on their health conditions. People with cardiovascular disease, respiratory illnesses, kidney concerns, and more, are at elevated risk of heat stroke. Persons experiencing homelessness are two-fold exposed to health risks from extreme heat due to their chronic exposure without respite.

Today’s motion instructed the Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management and the Department of Public Health, in partnership with the Chief Sustainability Office, to reassess the conditions under which the County reactivates cooling to include factors like housing density, access to green spaces, and access to cooling. It also asked for the establishment of an outreach campaign that is culturally and linguistically sensitive and ensures vulnerable residents are aware of resources available to them to address extreme heat.

The motion also directed the agencies to look at expanding available cooling centers, including outdoor cooling centers, and Water Boxes – the latter which is meant to help public service organizations distribute water, via a four-stage treatment system designed to be connected to the municipal water infrastructure. The Water Box has been an important resource by which to provide water to vulnerable residents in the five locations where they are available throughout Los Angeles County, comprised of Skid Row and La Puente.


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