Don’t mess with this heat; Jax has many ways to get relief

Published on June 29, 2023 at 4:11 pm

Searing temperatures this weekend will be more than uncomfortable; they could be dangerous. Luckily, Jacksonville has many options for relief.

Among them: public pools, splash pads, libraries, malls and more. Homeless shelters and senior centers also can provide space for people to cool off.

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The forecast for the holiday weekend is brutal. Temperatures will remain in the upper 90s, and there’s a limited chance of rain before next week.

City cooling stations won’t help. Although the city has opened cooling stations in the past, a spokesperson said no city-sponsored shelters will open this week.

Other information about heat safety is available on JaxReady, the city’s emergency preparedness guide. JaxReady also features a variety of pools and splash pads available for public use under “Places to Stay Cool.” The website lists libraries and senior centers too.

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Some local homeless shelters will expand their hours and offer cooling stations in periods of extreme heat.

City Rescue Mission, a homeless shelter in Jacksonville, opens its cooling center and expands its overnight capacity when temperatures climb above 95 degrees. Executive Director Paul Stasi said City Rescue Mission offers more than a place for homeless people to stay for a few hours.

“People (can) come in early to our shelter if they’re experiencing homelessness — anytime it is going to be above 95 degrees,” Stasi said. “Once [people] check in, they don’t have to check out every day. They can keep their belongings with us. They’re guaranteed a place to stay at night.”

Clara White Mission, which provides support and transitional housing for homeless veterans, offers a day center yearround. Executive Marketing Administrator Michelle Maule said veterans in need can check in for the day to escape the heat.

“We want people to know that if they know someone in need, especially if they’re a veteran, they can come to the Clara White Mission,” Maule said. “We have [the day center] available for them. There are showers [and] bathrooms in there.”

A man chugs water to keep cool this week in Jacksonville. | Michelle Corum, Jacksonville Today

Dawn Gilman, chief executive officer of Changing Homelessness, encouraged people — homeless or not — to use public spaces to avoid the heat,

“The heat affects people who don’t have a home to go inside, but also anybody who’s on a fixed income.” Gilman said. “Use the public spaces that are open: libraries, the malls.”

Jacksonville Public Library offers 21 air-conditioned locations throughout Jacksonville. Chris Boivon, assistant director of community relations at Jacksonville Public Library, said the libraries offer heat relief for anybody in need.

“The libraries are open to all,” Boivin said. “We do have a code of conduct, [but] if people are using the library and being nice to each other and being good to staff, then that’s basically what we’re looking for. We have a lot of extra programming during June and July.”

Identifying heat-related illnesses can be challenging, but the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department offers advice to identify and handle heat exhaustion and stroke.

Symptoms of heat exhaustion can include headaches, vomiting, pale complexion, heavy sweating and mood changes. Symptoms of heat stroke can include hot, dry skin; high body temperatures; mental confusion; and convulsions or seizures.

To stay safe in the heat, the Fire and Rescue Department suggests avoiding direct sunlight, drinking plenty of liquids, wearing lightweight and loose-fitting clothes, wearing a hat or cap, and resting regularly.

If you experience heat-induced symptoms, move to a cool area and soak your clothes in water. Apply cool packs, use fans or air conditioning, and rehydrate. If vomiting occurs or symptoms become more severe, call for medical attention immediately.

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