Heat is the leading weather-related killer in most large U.S. cities, exceeding deaths from hurricanes, tornadoes, lightning, and blizzards combined. Due to climate change, extreme heat events will continue to grow in number and ferocity.
Communities of faith can do much to help members and neighborhoods prepare for and respond to extreme heat.
1) Learn about Heat Safety & Heat Related Illnesses and share this information with your community. Our sister Interfaith Power & Light affiliate in Delaware also has a helpful resource page dedicated to extreme heat preparation.
2) See if your congregation, organization, business or school might serve as a Cooling Station/Center.
The following is a list of important criteria for setting up a cooling center. There are no established criteria for cooling centers. Additionally, unless a special exemption has been given by the local Utilities, facilities used as cooling centers are not exempt from rotating blackouts. This information comes from this document.
Air conditioning or equivalent (temperature maintained at 79°) Accessible to people with disabilities / ADA compliant
Ample seating appropriate to the jurisdiction
Public restrooms accessible to people with disabilities
Access to potable water (drinking fountain, etc) Access to 911 services (payphone)
Proximity to public transit
Secure, facility has security service
Communications, phone (including TDD/TTY), internet access, sign-language interpreters Child friendly with materials for children to play with while at the cooling center
Medical Personnel such as nurses and/or aides
24 hour, 7 days a week operation
Personnel Assistance Services for people with disabilities
Available televisions, books, games
Transportation for those lacking their own, including wheelchair accessible services
Follow-up procedures for those in need of additional services (health care, social services, etc.) Area for pets
Veterinary resources available if needed