As temperatures rise, over 200 Heat Relief Network locations open across Valley

May 3, 2023, 8:12 AM

(Maricopa Association of Governments Photo)...

(Maricopa Association of Governments Photo)

(Maricopa Association of Governments Photo)

PHOENIX – More than 200 locations providing heat relief opened across the Valley this week, offering safe spaces to vulnerable populations as temperatures rise to potentially deadly levels.

The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) and its partners, including the city of Phoenix and The Salvation Army, operate the regional Heat Relief Network annually from May 1 to Sept. 30.

County health officials documented 425 heat-related deaths in 2022, 80% of which occurred in outdoor settings. More than half of last year’s heat-related deaths came in July, and 31% were on days when an excessive heat warning was in effect.

“Heat can be very sneaky and it can make you very sick very quickly, and even more so for our vulnerable populations, like individuals who are experiencing homelessness, our older population that’s on a fixed income and may not be able to run their air conditioning, individuals who work outside for a living, whether they’re doing landscaping or postal workers, etc.,” Kelli Williams, MAG director of human services, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Monday.

“The Heat Relief Network is just a great community of support across our region that allows individuals who may be vulnerable to heat to be able to come inside and get something cold to drink and be safe first for some time.”

The program includes an interactive online map showing all the locations, of which there are four types: cooling centers, respite centers, hydration stations and collection sites.

“All of our locations are volunteer,” Williams said. “They sign up on our website. There’s a very basic application that just takes a few minutes to complete it.”

Cooling centers are indoor areas with air conditioning and water available.

Respite centers, which are new this year, have the same amenities as cooling centers, but they also allow visitors to sit or lie down for a while to rest.

Hydration stations, which can be indoors or outdoors, hand out bottled water and collect donated items.

Collection sites are places where water and other items can be donated.

“If individuals are interested in getting involved in this work, one of the easiest ways is to help at one of the donation sites by dropping off bottles of water, sunscreen, ChapSticks,” Williams said.

“There’s lots of different supplies that individuals who are escaping the heat can use, but really that bottled water is critical this time of year.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Colton Krolak contributed to this report.

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As temperatures rise, over 200 Heat Relief Network locations open across Valley