Escape the Heat
Have you ever thought about what it’s like to be homeless in a DC summer? Imagine – the same blazing sun and oppressive humidity but no air-conditioned home or office for escape.
For about 8,000 individuals in DC this is their reality. However, there are places you can help them find to stay cool and healthy.
Heat Emergency Plan
To help people who are especially vulnerable to things like heat stroke, DC has something called a heat emergency plan. What is it? Whenever the temperature gets above 95 degrees, cooling centers are activated all over the district.
These facilities offer air-conditioned spaces where people can rest and recover. Keep in mind: these are only open to the public during a heat emergency, and not all facilities are alike.
Use the map below and become a cooling center expert! Not only will you know where you and your family can duck in out from under the sun, but you can also show people suffering in the heat where to find some relief.
Note: If you find someone suffering from heat exhaustion, call the hyperthermia hotline by dialing 311. Someone will come pick them up and take them to a cooling facility.
If a person looks like they’re having a heat stroke, call 911 immediately! For less serious situations, such as being slightly overheated, you can direct them to the nearest resource on the map below.
General Weekday Cooling Centers
These are the general cooling centers open to anyone Monday – Friday from noon to 6 PM and are marked by red thermometers.
Emergency Homeless Cooling Facilities
These are cooling centers that open specifically for homeless individuals during a heat emergency and are marked by grey bursts of wind. Be sure to check the map to see when each facility is open!
Public Housing Cooling Centers for Senior Citizens
These are cooling centers for senior citizens. These are especially designed for seniors without access to air conditioning and are marked by yellow suns.
Spray Parks in DC
Spray parks are perfect for anyone who is a little overheated and just needs to cool down for a while. You can find a spray park in practically any part of the city by clicking on the blue showerheads.
The last layer shows the location of public libraries throughout the District. While not specifically part of the heat emergency plan, they are important resources for homeless individuals and oases of air-conditioning.
The Most Important Thing
So, how can you tell if a person needs a cooling facility? This can be a bit tricky. But, the adjacent graphic is a great resource for you to use. Remember: if someone is suffering from heat exhaustion call 311. If someone is suffering from heat stroke call 911!