ARIZONA NEWS

As summer approaches, here’s what Maricopa County is offering to help you stay safe in the heat

Mar 20, 2024, 4:25 AM

With the summer months quickly approaching, more heat-relief resources are on the way to Maricopa C...

With the summer months quickly approaching, more heat-relief resources are on the way to Maricopa County to help residents and visitors safely make it through the season. (Getty Images File Photo)

(Getty Images File Photo)

PHOENIX — With the summer months quickly approaching, more heat-relief resources are on the way to Maricopa County to help residents and visitors safely make it through the season.

This year, a broader range of measures are being implemented, including increased heat relief supplies, availability of bilingual speakers and extended operational hours. These efforts aim to reduce the amount of heat-related deaths within the county.

Dr. Rebecca Sunenshine, director for the Maricopa County Department of Public Health, said the overall hope is to prevent nearly all heat-related deaths in the county.

“However, reasonably, what we hope is that by everyone coming together – cities, communities [and] organizations in Maricopa County – that we can at least decrease the number of deaths and not see another record year, even as temperatures rise,” Dr. Sunenshine said.

Cooling centers are set to be open from May 1 to September 30.

On the heels of last year’s treacherous summer, this is what will be new

Visitors at cooling centers reported in an evaluation last summer the need for such centers to remain open until 7 p.m., instead of 5 p.m. when temperatures can soar to their highest level.

When asked about the primary obstacles to accessing cooling centers, participants identified transportation limitations, lack of awareness regarding their locations and unawareness of their existence as the most significant challenges.

In response to those needs, MCDPH is working to expand cooling center hours, support a bilingual heat relief call center and create signs for all county heat relief locations so that they are visible from the streets. More items, like reusable bottles, are also being ordered to provide to smaller community cooling centers.

Help is coming for furry friends, too

Alongside the expected enhancements in heat mitigation efforts, heat relief centers will now extend assistance to dogs.

A new initiative introduces dog shoes and water bowls, aiming to ensure the safety of hundreds of dogs, MCDPH said. Funding was approved by the Board of Supervisors in mid-March.

“Offering dog shoes and water bowls at these centers will be tremendous help for those people trying to keep their dogs hydrated and protected from paw burns,” Supervisor Thomas Galvin, District 1, said in a press release.

Maricopa County Community Solutions provided $8,000 in funding for the dog supplies.

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As summer approaches, here’s what Maricopa County is offering to help you stay safe in the heat