Anyone who ventures outside in North Carolina can feel it this week: a scorching, blistering heat that can only be beat by a cold blast of AC. The extreme temperatures and weather events brought on by climate change that we’ve been hearing about for the last decade are here, and they’re even more sweat-inducing than we ever imagined.
Wake County has opened multiple cooling stations to relieve residents from extreme heat through Friday. With heat index values in and expected to remain in triple digits, indoor spaces are already open and operational during the day—they’re safe, air-conditioned havens to escape from the outdoors.
In Wake, there are four designated cooling locations in Raleigh, Zebulon, Wake Forest, and Fuquay-Varina open from 10 a.m. to around 5:15 p.m. to give people a place to sit in an air-conditioned room for as long as they need, with staff available to help. Residents can also seek refuge from the heat at any Wake County Public Library for indoor shelter and access to drinking water fountains.
The National Weather Service issued a heat warning for Central North Carolina Tuesday lasting from noon to 8 p.m., with a high temperature of 99 degrees and heat index values of 105-114 degrees. Wake County advises that adults over 65, children under four, and people with preexisting medical conditions or without access to air conditioning, are at the greatest risk during these days, and should drink plenty of water, wear loose clothing, and stay out of the sun. Common signs of heat-related illness may include elevated body temperature, rapid heart rate, headache, nausea, dizziness, and more.
Under such extreme conditions, Wake County urges community support and spreading awareness about the cooling stations, says Autumn Goheen, outreach coordinator for Wake County government.
“We encourage individuals to check on their neighbors and to talk to the members of their community to make sure that everyone knows that these options are available and to catch a ride if they need to,” Goheen says.
This isn’t the first time the county has opened cooling stations, and the local government will continue to do whatever is necessary in order to meet community needs going forward, says Goheen.
“We can’t predict what the future will hold but we are enacting policies and putting plans in place so that when we do see these stretches of hot weather coming, we are prepared to take action and provide some resources to our community,” Goheen says.
Above all, the county hopes that anyone who is feeling unsafe or uncomfortable outside will take advantage of the cooling stations this week.
“If people feel like they need to go, don’t hesitate,” Goheen says. “We’re more than happy to accommodate whomever feels that they need some reprieve.”
Wake County Human Services, 220 Swinburne St., Raleigh
Eastern Regional Center, 1002 Dogwood Drive, Zebulon
Northern Regional Center, 350 E. Holding Ave., Wake Forest
Southern Regional Center, 130 N Judd Pkwy NE, Fuquay-Varina
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