With temperatures approaching 100 degrees this week, Inland residents who usually go to malls or senior centers to escape the heat will not have that option due to novel coronavirus closures.
As a National Weather Service heat advisory goes into effect at 10 a.m. Tuesday and is expected to last through 9 p.m. Friday for the Inland valleys, several Riverside and San Bernardino county programs are in place to help those without air conditioning in their homes.
While no one tracks how many residents cool down at libraries or malls, “the problem now is that pretty much all of these places are closed because of COVID, which is why the (San Bernardino) County Department of Aging and Adult Services offered to send out fans or hotel vouchers to folks at risk of overheating,” said county spokesman David Wert.
Seniors in San Bernardino County who don’t have air conditioning could be eligible to have fans delivered or a county-paid stay in an air-conditioned hotel room. Those interested can call the county’s Adult Protective Services hotline at 877-565-2020.
In Riverside County, cooling centers coordinated by Community Action Partnership at libraries, community centers and other locations don’t usually open until June. Last year they had 27,892 visitors, 3,724 of which were seniors.
Those centers are not prepared for an earlier opening, according to Riverside County spokesman Jose Arballo Jr., at least partially because of the coronavirus outbreak and restrictions on public gatherings.
Arballo said the county’s public health department is advising older residents to turn on their air conditioners.
“A lot of times seniors would not run their air conditioning and go to the cooling centers (instead) because they don’t want to pay for a high utility bill,” Arballo said.
With that alternative unavailable, the county Office On Aging has a program to pay the extra utility costs.
The county also is offering air-conditioned hotel rooms, and will repair or replace a broken air conditioner, or deliver a new one.
Riverside County services are available by calling 211.
“Seniors are particularly vulnerable to the heat because, in some cases, they have underlying health conditions, or because of their age and the impact of heat on their bodies, they’re more susceptible to problems when they are out in the heat too long,” Arballo said.
Tips for those in the heat include: stay hydrated; relegate activity to early in the morning or in the early evening when temperatures are cooler; wear a hat and light-colored clothing; use sunscreen; don’t eat a heavy meal; and if traveling, make sure your vehicle is in good condition to avoid getting stranded outdoors.