As temperatures topped 110 degrees in many Inland Empire cities Tuesday, residents sought relief from various county-provided cooling centers.
Located in churches, senior centers, community centers, and libraries scattered throughout San Bernardino County, people have flocked for refuge from high temperatures during a mid-summer heat wave.
Rialto has three cooling centers–the Grace Vargas Senior Center, Rialto Public Library, and Johnson Community Center. Anyone is welcome to escape the heat and seek relief at the air-conditioned locations.
Recreation Leader Andy Carpio said the buildings serve as a “magnet” to attract people to other community services.
“It’s a great resource for people,” said Carpio. “I think it creates a sense of support within the community, demonstrating that we do care about their well being. It also gives them a chance to see what information and resources we have.”
Colton’s Community Services Department is also not exclusive to residents, explained Recreation Coordinator Felipe Vega. The city requires its community centers to have water jugs accessible if the heat exceeds 100 degrees.
Mario Garcia of Colton said these days he’s drinking a lot of water and staying refreshed by blasting his vehicle’s air conditioning. He walked into the Gonzales Community Center Tuesday to get a “quick drink” before heading to the skate park.
“This heat feels similar to opening an oven,” Garcia explained. “The hotness just hits you suddenly.”
Luis Munoz along with his four children passed by Bryce Hanes Park in San Bernardino to try to beat the heat. Kids cooled off by running through the splash pad, while Munoz quenched his thirst with Gatorade.
“It’s an uncontrolling [sic] feeling,” Munoz said about the heat wave. “One feels frustrated and sick under these conditions. That’s why I decided to visit the park because it’s necessary for us to refresh.”
Inside Highland’s Sam J. Racadio library it was a comfortable 73 degrees. Julie Chavez kept a watchful eye on two children she was babysitting as they looked for books to read.
“I like to come here twice a week to read to the kids or go on the computer. It’s a nice way to relax and beat the heat, and besides this is the best library I’ve been to,” remarked Chavez, who commutes from Beaumont.
The library and Environmental Learning Center is one of some 30-plus branches in San Bernardino County that patrons can take advantage of on hot summer days. Library assistant Tom Leo said that although most come into the Highland branch to take advantage of library services, some inquire specifically about county-designated cooling centers.
“We tell them to come on in and get a library card,” stated Leo. “We have cold water, restrooms, and with a library card, visitors can get up to three hours of computer and Internet use.”
According to the National Weather Service website, an Excessive Heat Warning was to remain in effect throughout the weekend. For information on local cooling centers in your area, you can contact 2-1-1.
R.A. Contreras contributed to this story.